DB Cooper, or Dan Cooper as his Northwest Orient check-in stated, committed the only unsolved crime in U.S aviation history.
Dan Cooper boarded Flight 305 from Portland, Oregon on November 24, 1971 like any other passenger, taking Seat 18C, but his secret agenda was something far more sophisticated than just flying to Seattle, Washington.
DB Cooper earned his name due to media mis-communication. He checked in as Dan Cooper and nothing else points to him being known as DB.
Shortly after take off, Cooper passed a note to a flight attendant sat nearest to him which stated he had a bomb in the black briefcase he brought on the plane with him.
After requesting Schaffner, the attendant, to come and sit next to him, she asked to see the bomb. Cooper discreetly opened the case to prove he wasn’t lying. The case held eight red cylinders with wires, tape and a battery pack.
Cooper gave her his demands which consisted of a sum of $200,000, four civilian parachutes, which were obtained from a local skydive school, and a fuel truck waiting to refuel the jet in Seattle once they landed.
After the message went from Schaffner to the pilot, William Scott, to the air traffic control tower to the local and federal law enforcement, Cooper’s demands were met and the passengers on board were told their flight would be delayed due to technical issues.
The pilot circled above Seattle to give police enough time to prepare the 10,000 unmarked 20-dollar bills for the ransom money.
Upon landing, Cooper shut the window shades to deter police snipers. Once the ransom money and parachutes were delivered and the plane refueled, Cooper ordered all the passengers and most of the airline staff to exit the plane.
Just after sunset, the plane took off headed in a South Easterly direction towards Mexico. Cooper gathered the four remaining staff in the cockpit. The pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and an attendant named Mucklow who was the person that received the ransom money and parachutes from a colleague.
Cooper then headed out the cockpit and moments later, the pilot saw an alert that the aft airstair apparatus had been activated. The pilot used the intercom to offer assistance, but Cooper abruptly refused the help.
The mysterious hi-jacker ran out the back of the plane and disappeared into the night sky with $200,000 in ransom money. That was the last time anyone ever heard from, or saw, Dan (D.B) Cooper.
With nothing much to go on apart from a common name that was likely fictitious and the crew’s description of him, all roads led to a dead.
All the reports of Dan Cooper from the flight crew stated he was pleasant, polite, calm and well-spoken. He even ordered drinks and paid the tab as well as requested meals for the flight crew as they were in the air.
Despite countless searches and an enormous amount of man-power put into trying to find out who Dan Cooper was, all yielded no results.
In 1980, nine years after the hi-jacking, an eight-year-old named Brian Ingram found three packets of cash, three packets of cash collectively totaling $5,800 (Two packets of 100 x $20 bills and one packet of 90 x $20 bills).
As shown in the genuine picture of the money (above), the notes had deteriorated greatly over the nine years. The FBI matched the serial numbers to those used in the ransom and confirmed they were bills from the Cooper Hi-jacking.
After negotiations, the money was split equally between the Ingram family who found the bills and Northwest Orient’s insurer. The FBI retained fourteen bills as evidence. Ingram sold fifteen of his bills at an auction for approximately $37,000 in 2008.
To date, not a single bill outside of those found by Ingram has been discovered anywhere in the world. Their serial numbers remain available online for public search.
The Cooper hi-jacking remains the only unsolved aviation case in U.S History with very little chance of the case ever being solved unless the body of Dan Cooper and the remaining money is discovered.
The DB Cooper Hi-jacking has even inspired huge elements of the popular series, Prison Break.
In the fan-favorite TV series, Michael Scolfield gets himself sent to prison to break his brother, Lincoln, out because he was framed for killing the Vice-President’s brother to cover up a large government conspiracy.
In the show, DB Cooper and his money, though elaborated for the the show, is a core piece of the story primarily in Season 1 and Season 2.
What are your thoughts on who DB Cooper was? Let us know in the comments below.
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