D. B. Cooper Heist 1971
D. B. Cooper is the epithet of an unidentified man that hi-jacked a Boeing 747 on November 24, 1971, and parachuted out of the aircraft with $200,000 in cash (equivalent to $1.2 million in 2015). The unidentified hi-jacker purchased his ticket under the alias ‘Dan Cooper’ and boarded the plane (because of media miscommunication, he became known to the masses as D. B. Cooper instead of Dan Cooper).
Northwest Airlines flight #305 set off from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, during which time ‘D. B. Cooper’ showed the flight crew a briefcase which contained a bomb, then proceeded to take over the aircraft. When the plane landed in Seattle, Cooper demanded $200,000 in cash, four parachutes, and food for himself and the crew before releasing all of the passengers. With only one flight attendant and three pilots left on board, they took off, heading south from Seattle, Washington with the marked bills.
Approximately 45 minutes after take off, Cooper tied the bank bags full of $20 bills to his body, lowered the aircraft’s rear stairs, parachuted out of the back of the plane, and disappeared into the night. The exact location of his daring jump is unknown, but it was somewhere north of Portland, Oregon. When the plane landed with the stairs down, authorities found two of the four parachutes and a black tie in Cooper’s seat.
The fate of his daring jump remains unknown to this day. Despite an extensive manhunt and a still ongoing FBI investigation, the true identity of D. B. Cooper, his whereabouts (whether dead or alive), and what happened to the money, is still a mystery. As such, the D. B. Cooper hi-jacking remains the only unsolved air piracy case in American aviation history. Hundreds of leads and many theories have been pursued, but there is still no conclusive evidence to establish the true identity of the hi-jacker, or what happened to him. Over a thousand military personnel, several helicopters, and even a spy plane scoured the search area, but Cooper was nowhere to be found.
Authorities have stated from the beginning that Cooper was unlikely to have survived the daring jump due to there having been a heavy storm at the time of his plunge into the darkness, but this is just a theory without any evidence. In 1980, a nine-year-old boy at Tena Bar uncovered a wad of $20 bills, just north of Portland on the Columbia river, while he was digging a fire pit.
There were three bundles of cash buried just a few inches below the surface which totaled $5,800. After a closer inspection of the bills, authorities discovered that the serial numbers matched those from the ransom and were then identified as the bills from the D. B. Cooper hi-jacking. After nine years of searching, it was the first clue that had come to light. The FBI thoroughly searched the beach, but found nothing, which only deepened the mystery further. Since then, no new evidence has been discovered, making this case one of America’s most challenging unsolved mysteries in history. The true identity of D. B. Cooper may elude authorities and enthusiasts forever, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to figure out what really happened on that cold November evening.
45 years later and D. B. Cooper is still a “famous” name in the world of unsolved crime mysteries. He has been referenced in books, shows, and movies. One of the most recent, and most detailed, was Prison Break.
Prison Break reference
In the hit TV show “Prison Break,” Muse Watson plays the character of Charles Westmoreland, a man who is facing life in prison for vehicular manslaughter. When Scofield (played by Wentworth Miller) discovers his brother is facing the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit, he forms a plan to break him out of prison; but that’s just the beginning. Scofield’s extraordinary mind and out-of-the-box thinking devises an incredibly masterful plan to break out of prison that will ensure they would never be going back. One of the main components of his plans is to acquire the funding necessary to make his brother disappear. During his deep, detailed study of Fox River penitentiary (the prison where his brother is being held), he discovers another very useful person who may be able to offer a solution to the money problem.
After extensive research into the D. B. Cooper hi-jacking, he discovers that the mystery hi-jacker and Charles Westmoreland are one in the same person. Unfortunately, Westmoreland is adamant that he is not the legendary D. B. Cooper and Scofield will have to find another source of financing. Later on in the show, something happens (which we won’t spoil), but the story of D. B. Cooper begins to unfold and season one is just the start. Prison Break is a four season TV series, and Fox is currently filming “Prison Break Revival,” which is scheduled to premier in September 2016. For more on Prison Break Revival, click here.