May 22, 1962
Unionville, Iowa: At approximately 9:17 p.m. on May 22, Continental Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 707, registration N70775, from Chicago to Kansas City experienced an explosive decompression and broke apart mid-air before falling to earth in a clover field near Centerville, Iowa in the Union Township. All forty-five souls aboard lost their lives in what became a first in commercial aviation history, the crash of a jet airliner via sabotage.
At 9:22, a B-47 Stratojet from nearby Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, reported seeing fiery debris falling from the sky and landing with devastating effect. Air traffic controllers had no reports from the crew, other than just before they lost contact, Flight 11 reported a deviation in course to avoid a line of thunderstorms. Controllers wondered if the weather had something to do with the crash, but investigators soon discovered something more sinister was afoot.
Investigators found the crash site to distributed over a large debris field, with the tail section quite a distance away from the main fuselage. Investigators also began to see signs of peeled skin on the fuselage indicating an explosive force outward. The point of ignition seemed to come from the lavatory on the right side of the aircraft. Investigators began to work with the FBI and soon began looking at the passenger list. One name stood out almost immediately, Thomas G. Doty. The reason that his name stood out among the others was that Mr. Doty had recently purchased a $150,000 life insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha, the maximum at the time. He also purchased additional insurance at the airport. Mr. Doty had a criminal past and was due to appear in court int he near future for an armed robbery attempt. He was also married and had a small daughter. Investigators later learned that in the week prior to the flight, Mr. Doty purchased six sticks of dynamite for $0.29 apiece.
When chemical analysis on the fuselage around the point of decompression was complete, the presence of dynamite residue confirmed investigators suspicions. The team concluded that Mr. Doty brought the dynamite on board, set the timer, placed the package in the starboard lavatory and settled into his seat thinking that his family would be taken care of for the rest of their lives. It is unknown whether Mutual of Omaha actually paid out the policy or ruled the death as a suicide.