The D.B Cooper Hi-Jacking – The Only Unsolved Case in American Aviation History
D. B. Cooper was the 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 $1.25 million in 2018). The mystery 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.” instead of just ”Dan”).
Northwest Airlines flight #305 set off from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, during which time 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 with the marked bills.
Approximately 45 minutes after take off, he 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.
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 Dan 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. Over a thousand military personnel, several helicopters, and even a spy plane scoured the search area, but Cooper was never found.
Authorities claimed from the beginning that Cooper was unlikely to have survived the daring jump due to there having been a heavy storm at the time. And 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 Cooper ransom. 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 of all time.
45 years later and the mysterious jumper 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 was Prison Break Season 1. It was only loosely based on the events of the D.B Cooper Hi-jacking and tells the story of Charles Westmoreland (D.B) burying the money in a silo in Utah.
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