Just when you thought the mystery of D.B. Cooper would never be solved, a couple of kids go and find a parachute in their backyard .Who the hell is D.B. Cooper you might ask? Well, he was either a pure genius or a friggin loon, depending on his fate. No one knows his real identity, just the name he had on his boarding pass in 1971.
On Thanks Giving day, 24th November, 1971, a quiet man, carrying a canvas bag boarded a Northwest Airlines plane destined for Seattle. He sat down in his requested seat, opposite where the stewardess sat for take-off, and waited until the plane was 25 minutes into the flight. He then pressed the button for the stewardess attention, to which Tina Mucklow responded. Mr Cooper then passed Tina a note which read ” I have a bomb with me. If I don’t get $200,000 I will blow us all to bits.” Understandably she was a little bit confused until old Cooper flashed her a look inside his canvas bag. Dynamite, wires and a detonator were hint enough and she promptly scampered to the flight deck to break the news to the pilot. Before too long the FBI, police marksmen and the National Guard were surrounding the airport. But, alas, this was to no avail, Mr Cooper was far too smart and organized, he had a plane full of people and a big old bomb. Eventually the powers that be, handed over a wad of unmarked bills valued at $200,000 and 4 parachutes in exchange for the release of the 150 or so passengers (who, by the way, had no idea they were being hijacked). He then ordered the plane to be flown to Mexico (as you do). Captain Bill Scott was the lucky pilot on the day and despite being followed by an Air Force Fighter jet, he was at the mercy of this quiet dude with a canvas bag. Cooper, during flight, ordered the pilot to lower the plane flaps 15 % , keep the landing gear down and fly at below 90m per second (not exceeding 7,000 ft). Cooper then requested that the rear door of the plane be opened and he exited the cabin. The captain flew for 4 hours at low altitude until he reached Reno, Nevada. Cooper was no longer on the plane. Somewhere during the journey the quiet man, with glasses, had jumped from the Boeing 727. Detailed examination of the Black Box suggested that Cooper had jumped out somewhere over the wooded terrain of Washington State, right under the nose of the Air Force jet. The bitter cold and harsh terrain hampered search efforts, with many believing D.B.Cooper would have never survived the jump, let alone the horrid conditions. But despite this theory, nothing was ever found to prove he perished. To add fuel to the fire, three weeks later a letter arrived at the LA Times from D.B. Cooper explaining the reasons for the hijack. Only having 14 months to live he decided to “gain a few grains of peace”. D.B. Cooper soon became a hero and the public loved him. In 1979 the hatch of the plane was discovered, which started a a frenzy of treasure hunters rummaging in the forest looking for the loot. In 1980 an 8 year old boy found a wad of $20 bills (adding up to $6,000) which matched the serial number of Cooper’s money on the banks of Columbia River. Again treasure hunters flocked to the area to no avail. In 1989 a small parachute was discovered in the Columbia River, but that was later found to be not D.B. Cooper’s.
So, this brings me back to the discovery of the parachute in March, 2008. If the parachutes proves to be that of Dan Cooper, then the mystery of where he landed will be finally solved. But it will also raise new doubts about how the money made its way to Columbia River and what really became of Dan Cooper. Here’s hoping Cooper pulled off the daring heist and escaped with only minor injuries. It would be a bummer if he didn’t !