Flight 11 Memorial

Northeast Corner of the Courthouse Lawn

Flight 11

On May 22, 1962, Continental Airlines Flight 11 crashed just south of the Iowa line in Putnam County, MO.  It was later determined that a passenger, Thomas G. Doty, carried six sticks of dynamite aboard the plane and blew up the aircraft, killing 37 passengers and 8 crew members. 

The flight departed O’Hare at 8:30 PM and was routine until just before the Mississippi River.  It deviated from its filed flight plan to the north due to a line of thunderstorms.  The Waverly, Iowa, Flight Following Service, lost the radar image of the aircraft in the vicinity of Centerville, Iowa.  At approximately 9:17PM an explosion occurred in the right rear lavatory, resulting in separation of the tail section from the fuselage.  The main part of the fuselage struck the ground about 6 miles north/northwest of Unionville, MO.  Witnesses in the area reported hearing loud noises around 9:20PM.

Of the 45 individuals on board the plane, 44 were dead when rescuers reached the crash site.  One passenger, Takehiko Nakano, Evanston, IL, was alive when rescuers found him in the wreckage.  He later died of internal injuries at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Centerville, IA.  Of the 37 passengers, 36 were men.  The majority were veterans of WWII and highly successful businessmen.

In the days that followed, search parties from Missouri and Iowa spread out to search for bodies and pieces of the wreckage.  The National Guard unit in Centerville, IA provided security for the crash site.  From pieces of the scattered wreckage, federal officials reassembled Flight 11 in a building at the fairgrounds in Centerville.

After much planning, a Memorial for Flight 11 was dedicated on May 22, 2010 on the Northeast corner of the Putnam County Courthouse lawn in Unionville, MO.   Family members of the victims were the community’s guests of honor and many spoke at the Dedication Ceremony.  Guest Speaker was Thomas Hamilton who lost his father, Maurice Hamilton, in the crash.  The song “How Many Knew Him on the Flight 11” was played at the memorial.  The late Tharon Guffey wrote this song and it was dedicated to the families of those lost in the needless tragedy.

The Putnam County Historical Society Museum includes a display in honor of Flight 11.  This includes some items from the crash and many newspaper clippings and copies of articles regarding the crash.



Piece of wreckage donated by Leland Davis


Putnam County Museum

201 South 16th Street

Unionville, MO  63565

(660) 947-2955




Putnam County

Historical Society, Inc., and Genealogical society Unionville, Missouri