Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
November 24th 1971, an American Legend was born. When “D.B. Cooper” jumped out of a flying Boeing 727 with $200,000. So why are we celebrating America’s only uncaptured skyjacker? Well to paraphrase Star Lord “We are a planet of outlaws.” And unlike other famous outlaws in our history, like Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Jessie James and Billy the Kid, Cooper at least never killed anyone (that we know of.)
So a little history, a man signing in as Dan Cooper bought a twenty buck ticket in cash to fly from Portland to Seattle. To me the fact that an airline ticket to anywhere only cost $20.00 in 1971 is the most fantastic part of the story. Once airborne he showed a stewardess (an Old English word for flight attendant) what he claimed was a bomb in a suitcase (later proven fake) he demanded two hundred grand in twenties and four parachutes. He then jumped out the plane somewhere over Washington or Oregon. Never to be heard of again. Nine years latter an eight year old boy found 290 of the missing twenty dollars in a sandbar on the Colombia River (about thirty miles from where I am writing this) Below is the only of the money that has ever been recovered (The FBI had all the money’s serial numbers and they are still looking for it.)
The name DB Cooper was that of a known Pacific Northwest trouble maker, who held resemblance to the skyjacker. The cops thought it might have been him but they raided his Thanksgiving dinner and interviewed him while the plane was still in the air. The name was leaked to the press however and has stuck as the name of the case.
Unlike fellow Pac-Nor West mystery Sasquatch, Cooper was a real person, the question is who was he, and what happened to him? To me that is completely different form say ghosts and UFO’s. There is no doubt it happened, but what it is, is a real who done it? And maybe a why’d he do it?
One question I had was if he had survived after 46 years why doesn’t he just say “hey it was me, I can prove it.”? Well it turns out because he was indicted in absentia by a Portland jury, there is pretty much no statute of limitations on this case.
There are plenty of theories out there on who Dan was. Personally I don’t want to know. Deep Throat became less interesting when it was revealed that he was FBI agent W. Mark Felt. But I am probably in the minority because there is a practically cottage industry of trying to ID the dude.
One fascinating thing about him was that he might have been a comic book fan. The name Dan Cooper is shared with a Canadian comic book character
Maj Dan Cooper a test pilot known for insubordination and defying officials when the fate of Canada was on the line. Sounds far fetch, well I am not the only one who has noticed the link. That picture of Major Cooper skydiving, I jacked it off the FBI website.
So how do you exactly celebrate DB Cooper day? Besides like jumping out of a plan with a lot of money? The city of Ariel Washington (the closest town to where it is believed that Cooper jumped) often hold a party at its local tavern and complete with a DB Cooper costume contest, and there has been at least one music festival in the Pacific Northwest bearing his name. As for me on the 25th, I will stand in the flight path of PDX (where the plane took off) and as a jet liner flies over me I will whisper “where did you go?” knowing I don’t really want to know.