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An Innocent Check In

November 24, 1971: it is a busy afternoon in the Portland (Oregon) International Airport. Thanksgiving is the next day, and harried travelers are rushing to meet their flights. A man wearing a dark suit steps up to the counter of Northwest Orient Airlines and asks for a one-way ticket from Portland to Seattle. The ticket agent asks the man his name and he tells her that it’s ‘Dan Cooper.’ Smiling, the agent at the ticket counter hands the man his ticket for Flight 305, for which ‘Dan’ pays cash.

Carrying nothing more than a single briefcase, the man heads to his gate and soon boards his plane.

A Note and a Surprise

Just after the plane takes off, the man, sitting near the rear of the aircraft, lights up a cigarette and orders a bourbon and soda. After finishing his drink and cigarette, the man casually walks up to a flight attendant and hands her a note. The note states that the man is carrying a bomb in his briefcase and goes on to say that the man demands $200,000 along with four parachutes once the plane lands in Seattle. Mr. ‘Cooper’ then goes on to open his briefcase, revealing to the flight attendant a device that indeed resembles a bomb. The man then strolls back to his seat, acting as if nothing had happened.

The Stormy Getaway

Flight 305 lands without incident at Sea-Tac International Airport. ‘Cooper’ allows the other 36 passengers aboard the plane, as well as some of the crew members, to evacuate the aircraft in exchange for the money and the parachutes. Amid a cavalcade of red and blue sirens and press cameras the flight takes off once again, this time in the direction of Mexico City. Cooper orders the pilot to keep the plane at a low altitude and then, a few hours later, he asks the crew to open one of the aircraft’s exit doors. Wearing nothing more than the dark suit, parachute and some wrap-around sunglasses, Cooper jumps from the plane into a raging thunderstorm and sub-zero temperatures. He is never heard from again.

Who in the World is D.B. Cooper?

To this day, American authorities still have not identified D.B. Cooper (note: D.B. was the name added by the American press later on). In the years following the skyjacking, FBI agents considered over 800 suspects but they eliminated each for various reasons. Among the suspects the FBI considered more seriously was Kenneth Christiansen, since he worked for the airline and had experience as a paratrooper.  However Christiansen was dismissed as a suspect by the FBI. Even today, there are still occasional new clues that emerge and theories as to who D.B. Cooper really was, but the case remains unsolved. Cooper’s is the only unsolved skyjacking case in the Unite States.

D.B. Cooper Fun Facts

  • Cooper was described as a white man with dark hair, 5’10” to 6′ tall, and wearing a dark suit
  • The other passengers and flight crew said that Cooper had a very polite, thoughtful and kind demeanor
  • The only things the hijacker left behind were two of the parachutes and his black tie, with a mother-of-pearl tie pin attached
  • The FBI marked each of the $20 bills that they gave to Cooper, but the money was never found