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(56,302 posts)
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 04:39 PM Nov 2020

On this day, November 24, 1971, Dan "D. B." Cooper dropped out of sight.

D. B. Cooper

A 1972 FBI composite drawing of Cooper

Disappeared: November 24, 1971 (49 years ago)

N467US, the aircraft involved in the hijacking

Dan Cooper is the pseudonym of an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in United States airspace between Portland and Seattle on the afternoon of November 24, 1971. The man purchased his airline ticket using the alias Dan Cooper but, because of a news miscommunication, became known in popular lore as D. B. Cooper. He extorted $200,000 in ransom (equivalent to $1,260,000 in 2019) and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and protracted FBI investigation, the perpetrator has never been located or identified. It remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history.



On Thanksgiving eve, November 24, 1971, a middle-aged man carrying a black attaché case approached the flight counter of Northwest Orient Airlines at Portland International Airport. He identified himself as "Dan Cooper" and used cash to purchase a one-way ticket on Flight 305, a 30-minute trip north to Seattle. Cooper boarded the aircraft, a Boeing 727-100 (FAA registration N467US), and took seat 18C (18E by one account, 15D by another) in the rear of the passenger cabin. Cooper was a quiet man who appeared to be in his mid-40s, wearing a business suit with a black tie and white shirt. He ordered a drink—bourbon and soda—while the flight was waiting to take off.

FBI wanted poster of D. B. Cooper

Flight 305, approximately one-third full, departed Portland on schedule at 2:50 p.m. PST. Shortly after takeoff, Cooper handed a note to Florence Schaffner, the flight attendant situated nearest to him in a jump seat attached to the aft stair door Schaffner, assuming the note contained a lonely businessman's phone number, dropped it unopened into her purse. Cooper leaned toward her and whispered, "Miss, you'd better look at that note. I have a bomb."

The note was printed in neat, all-capital letters with a felt-tip pen. Its exact wording is unknown, because Cooper later reclaimed it, but Schaffner recalled that the note said that Cooper had a bomb in his briefcase. After Schaffner read the note, Cooper told her to sit beside him. Schaffner did as requested, then quietly asked to see the bomb. Cooper opened his briefcase long enough for her to glimpse eight red cylinders ( "four on top of four" ) attached to wires coated with red insulation, and a large cylindrical battery. After closing the briefcase, he stated his demands: $200,000 in "negotiable American currency"; four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival. Schaffner conveyed Cooper's instructions to the pilots in the cockpit; when she returned, Cooper was wearing dark sunglasses.


Back in the air

Boeing 727 with the aft airstair open

At approximately 7:40 p.m., the Boeing 727 took off with only five people on board: Cooper, pilot Scott, flight attendant Mucklow, copilot Rataczak, and flight engineer Harold E. Anderson. Two F-106 fighter aircraft were scrambled from McChord Air Force Base and followed behind the airliner, one above it and one below, out of Cooper's view. A Lockheed T-33 trainer, diverted from an unrelated Air National Guard mission, also shadowed the 727 before running low on fuel and turning back near the Oregon–California state line. Overall there were five planes in total trailing the hijacked plane. None of the pilots saw him jump or could pinpoint a location where he could have landed.

After takeoff, Cooper told Mucklow to join the rest of the crew in the cockpit and remain there with the door closed. As she complied, Mucklow observed Cooper tying something around his waist. At approximately 8:00 p.m., a warning light flashed in the cockpit, indicating that the aft airstair apparatus had been activated. The crew's offer of assistance via the aircraft's intercom system was curtly refused. The crew soon noticed a subjective change of air pressure, indicating that the aft door was open.

At approximately 8:13 p.m., the aircraft's tail section sustained a sudden upward movement, significant enough to require trimming to bring the plane back to level flight. At approximately 10:15 p.m., the aircraft's aft airstair was still deployed when Scott and Rataczak landed the 727 at Reno Airport. FBI agents, state troopers, sheriff's deputies, and Reno police surrounded the jet, as it had not yet been determined with certainty that Cooper was no longer aboard, but an armed search quickly confirmed his absence.

25 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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On this day, November 24, 1971, Dan "D. B." Cooper dropped out of sight. (Original Post) mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2020 OP
I received my "DB Lives" tshirts in the mail today. roamer65 Nov 2020 #1
I want one! Mme. Defarge Nov 2020 #2
eBay. roamer65 Nov 2020 #3
I wonder if he's reading this very thread today somewhere... First Speaker Nov 2020 #4
Nat Geo has DB show in their unsolved mysteries series fearnobush Nov 2020 #9
Yeah. I loved that hat. roamer65 Nov 2020 #11
Saw It, Too (Spoiler) ProfessorGAC Nov 2020 #16
Lawrence Fishbone, LOL. maxsolomon Nov 2020 #21
He didn't end up with the money. so it can't have been worth remembering... brooklynite Nov 2020 #10
Aw crap, he didn't get the money really? cwydro Nov 2020 #24
Was *all* the money found...? First Speaker Nov 2020 #25
I remember that day. In_The_Wind Nov 2020 #5
Long live DB Copper! fearnobush Nov 2020 #6
Ok, I am going to fess up.... Chainfire Nov 2020 #7
LIAR! stevil Nov 2020 #15
If you are going to tell a lie, it may as well be a big one! ;) Chainfire Nov 2020 #20
Saw a good documentary on this awhile back, radius777 Nov 2020 #8
Wonder what his chance of survival was...20 percent, maybe 30? brush Nov 2020 #14
His remains would have been found. former9thward Nov 2020 #22
I keep watching for one of the recovered $20 bills to come up to auction. roamer65 Nov 2020 #12
That Boeing 727-100 ended up at Piedmont Airlines .. I flew on it numerous times in my airline days. DemoTex Nov 2020 #13
That's Funny! ProfessorGAC Nov 2020 #17
Never.heard.the.full story thx. for this Demovictory9 Nov 2020 #18
Busy with family and personal drama in'71. Never paid much marybourg Nov 2020 #19
popular culture refererence ... jobendorfer Nov 2020 #23

First Speaker

(4,858 posts)
4. I wonder if he's reading this very thread today somewhere...
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 04:45 PM
Nov 2020

...and laughing. Maybe even celebrating a bit. If by chance he *did* survive and get away with it, he must have the ultimate feeling of I-Know-Something-You-Don't-Know. Do you suppose that he, or anybody, could go almost 50 years without telling *somebody*? I know I couldn't...


(3,960 posts)
9. Nat Geo has DB show in their unsolved mysteries series
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 04:53 PM
Nov 2020

Featuring Lawrence Fishbone. They did extensive coverage on fbi number one person of interest and in a 2018 interview he is seen wearing a baseball cap that has “I miss Obama” on it while sporting a Vets for Bernie Jacket - a true American hero bad ass.


(63,639 posts)
16. Saw It, Too (Spoiler)
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 05:20 PM
Nov 2020

Lots of tension until we find the DNA didn't match.
But, it was an excellent episode

First Speaker

(4,858 posts)
25. Was *all* the money found...?
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 08:04 PM
Nov 2020

...I knew some was discovered in a river bank somewhere, but I didn't think all of it was...


(3,960 posts)
6. Long live DB Copper!
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 04:48 PM
Nov 2020

He stole money yes, a bad thing but I least he stole it dramatically and got away unlike most Republicans who steal 10X more and no one lifts a finger to convict them.


(17,092 posts)
7. Ok, I am going to fess up....
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 04:48 PM
Nov 2020

It was me, and that rendering is terrible. I have enjoyed the money over the years and have laughed a lot about me dying in the desert. This thing was meticulously planned and I was gone far before the FBI came anywhere close to the scene. It was a lot easier in those days to evade capture, and I wouldn't try it again.


(17,092 posts)
20. If you are going to tell a lie, it may as well be a big one! ;)
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 05:54 PM
Nov 2020

A big lie cost no more than a small one, and more people will believe it.

Actually when that happened I was on a ship somewhere off the Atlantic coast, keeping a eye on Russian trawlers, practicing tracking submarines, and calculating when I would get back to see my new wife. My most important job, judging by how often I had to do it, was staring at a steam gauge on destroyer escort. I did see Cooper as a kind of robin hood, when in fact he was just a hood.


(3,610 posts)
8. Saw a good documentary on this awhile back,
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 04:52 PM
Nov 2020

where a bunch of retired FBI guys were investigating this, and IIRC, they surmised DB Cooper was likely some ex-miltary special ops paratrooper with the high level of skill necessary to pull this off. Whether he survived or not, seems unlikely due to the weather and terrain, but I guess if he had the skill it's possible (though not probable).


(52,765 posts)
14. Wonder what his chance of survival was...20 percent, maybe 30?
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 05:14 PM
Nov 2020

I still like to think he made. I don't know why exactly but I hope he did.


(31,401 posts)
22. His remains would have been found.
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 07:10 PM
Nov 2020

Where he jumped is not exactly a no mans land. Plenty of people hike/fish/hunt the area. Bodies don't bury themselves.


(25,277 posts)
13. That Boeing 727-100 ended up at Piedmont Airlines .. I flew on it numerous times in my airline days.
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 05:07 PM
Nov 2020

BTW: For years after the 1971 Cooper-Caper, airline crews relieved the tedium of long waits between flights in airport terminals by picking up the red courtesy phone and having the airport announcer (yes, they existed) page D.B. Cooper. Countless times in PIT, PHL, LGA, ATL, LAX, SFO, JFK, etc., I heard, "Mr. Cooper, Mr. D.B. Cooper, please pick up the red courtesy phone nearest you," or, "Mr. Cooper, Mr. D.B. Cooper, please meet your party at the airport security entrance."


(12,481 posts)
19. Busy with family and personal drama in'71. Never paid much
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 05:37 PM
Nov 2020

attention to this story. Very compelling read, now. Thanx for posting it.


(508 posts)
23. popular culture refererence ...
Tue Nov 24, 2020, 07:20 PM
Nov 2020

Which is what made the following scene in the 1st (pilot) episode of _Twin Peaks_ so funny:

Cooper (taking the microphone and addressing the town residents at a community meeting):
"Ladies and gentlemen ... I am FBI special Agent Dale ... B. ...Cooper."

Curiously, nobody at the time seemed to notice the resemblance between the color artists' sketch and Connery's James Bond.


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