D. B. Cooper

For everything and anything that goes "bump" in the night or is unexplained.

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D. B. Cooper

#1

Post by ScottyMcGee » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:44 am

I'm surprised there's no thread on him already in here.
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D. B. Cooper is quite possibly the most notorious case of air piracy. He's currently the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history.

On November 24, 1971, an unidentified man hijacked a Boeing 727 in midflight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. He extorted $200,000 in ransom (equivalent to $1,180,000 in 2016) and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and protracted FBI investigation, he has never been located or identified. While a very small portion of the money has been found in the woods, the rest remains a mystery.

He identified himself as "Dan Cooper" (authorities assume he did not use his real name) in the airport. He carried only one briefcase and dressed in a suit and tie. Very smooth.

On the flight, Cooper handed a note to the nearest flight attendant, Florence Schaffner. Florence assumed Cooper was some lonely businessman who wanted a good time, and so she put the note in her purse. Cooper then whispered in her ear, "Miss, you'd better look at that note. I have a bomb."

Cooper later reclaimed the note (smart bastard). Florence recalled that the note said the bomb was in his briefcase. She asked to see the bomb and he showed it to her in private - seeing what she described as "eight red cylinders" attached with wires to a large battery. After showing it to her, he demanded the money, four parachutes (two primary and two reserve), and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival. Florence relayed this information to the pilot. When she returned, he had put on sunglasses (like a BOSSSSSS).

The pilot told the passengers that their arrival in Seattle would be delayed due to "minor mechanical difficulty" (LOL). After contacting authorities, the pilot was told to remain calm and obey the hijacker. He flew around Seattle for about 2 hours to allow Cooper's demands to get ready on the ground, as well as for police to form up.

In that time, Florence and other attendants recall Cooper being calm and collective, very different than most stereotypical hijackers at the time. He was also very familiar with the area, as he accurately identified cities and air bases on the ground from the window. He made small talk and continued ordering bourbon and water. Never once did he raise his voice. He even paid for his drink, meals and gave a tip to Florence.

Cooper was told his demands were met, although he strictly demanded civilian parachutes instead of military grade ones, which they quickly fixed up.

Cooper demanded the pilot land in the isolated part of the runway. He had him extinguish the cabin lights to deter any police snipers. An official handed the money and parachutes to an attendant, who in turn gave it to Cooper. Cooper then let everybody except the pilots and a few members of the cabin crew. During refueling, he laid out his planes to the pilots, which was to reach Mexico City, Mexico. He had an extremely detailed list of how they should handle the plane, such as the altitude, the speed, etc. They would have needed to refuel on the way to Mexico City and Cooper and the pilots agreed upon Reno, Nevada.

Cooper then demanded something crazy - he demanded that they take off with the exit ramp lowered and the aft airstair extended. Everybody else said that was too dangerous but he kept saying it would work, without elaborating further. They still refused and Cooper let the argument go, saying that he would do it himself once they were in the air.

After their second takeoff, two fighter jets scrambled after them from the nearby McChord Air Force Base (The same air base that Florence said he recognized. Somebody definitely did his homework.). A third fighter jet shadowed them.

Cooper told everybody to stay in the cockpit and remain there with the door closed. That was the last anyone saw of "D. B. Cooper". The crew noticed the warning light that the door leading to the exit ramp had opened, then that the aft airstair was lowering. A change in air pressure was detected. The tail of the airplane momentarily bobbed. The pilot needed to set the plane right again for a second. Once they landed, everybody searched the plane, but Cooper was never found.

None of the fighter jet pilots detected Cooper jump, either visually or on radar. Cooper did jump at night and it would have been hard to see anyway. Oh - and it was also raining.

The suspected area of Cooper's landing includes southernmost outreach of Mount St. Helens, a few miles southeast of Ariel, Washington, near Lake Merwin, an artificial lake formed by a dam on the Lewis River. Basically, everybody **** searched everywhere, asked everyone and couldn't find any remains or any trace of Cooper. They even used a submarine in the lake.

The FBI has since publicized the serial numbers of the bills they gave Cooper. The money never showed up in circulation and nobody ever fessed up with identifying them.

Cooper left behind his clip-on tie and two parachutes, one of which had been opened and two shroud lines cut from its canopy.

HOWEVER - there are only two bona fide clues that were found after the hijacking:

- a placard explaining how to lower the aft airstair of a 727 Boeing, discovered by a deer hunter within the vicinity of Cooper's landing

- a small portion of the same money that the FBI gave to Cooper, although torn up. The bills had been bundled in the same manner that they gave to Cooper. Some kid found it afloat in a river some ways away. It actually rose more questions than answered because within the arranged packets, some bills were missing. There is also some debate on how it was found and the state it was in, given that it was 1980 when the kid found the money. The rubber band that held the money was way too fresh. Some theories suggest that random people found the money and tried reburying it for later. The money totals $5,800.

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D. B. Cooper's name stemmed from a mistake. After the hijacking, local police and FBI agents immediately began questioning possible suspects. One of the first was an Oregon man with a minor police record named D. B. Cooper, contacted by Portland police on the off-chance that Dan Cooper had used his real name, or the same alias in a previous crime. His involvement was quickly ruled out; but a local reporter named James Long, rushing to meet an imminent deadline, confused the eliminated suspect's name with the pseudonym used by the hijacker. The Associated Press published the mistaken name and it stuck in the public's consciousness ever since.

Some theories suggest that Dan Cooper was a former government agent - possibly a spy. At the time, the CIA used 727 Boeings to deploy agents and supplies behind enemy lines in Vietnam. No civilians at the time - even civilian pilots - knew that the aft airstair could be lowered during flight.

Last year in July, the FBI officially ended active investigations. Of course, they still request that any physical information regarding the money or parachute be submitted for analysis.

Cooper ultimately had a huge effect on airport security. Until the incident, airport security was very lax - nothing like what it is today. In 1973, after a long debate over the Fourth Amendment, all airlines were required to search passengers and their bags. Cooper even inspired so many copycat hijackers (who failed, obviously) that airliners are now equipped with a device called a "Cooper vane", which prevents the aft airstair from lowering during flight. We even equipped the cockpit doors with peepholes because of this.

Cooper has long since become a cultural phenomena. He is often inserted or referenced in many TV shows such as The 4400, Prison Break and Numb3rs. Before the series finale of Mad Men, many fans theorized that the main character, Don Draper, would end up being D. B. Cooper in the final episode. Ariel, Washington, the area of his supposed landing, celebrated "Cooper Day" annually from 1974 - 2014, when the owner of the tavern who held the festivities died. "Cooper Day" is still celebrated elsewhere with restaurants and bowling alleys promoting a Cooper theme.

Who knows where Dan Cooper is now? He's probably still out there, gray and old now, drinking another bourbon and water and thinking, "Man, remember when I was young and a total badass?"
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#2

Post by Shane » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:09 pm

I was just rewatching Prison Break to get back up to speed because it is back again for a fifth season, just in time to be interrupted by a writers' strike again.
Now I know there's a reason you shouldn't blame others when you do something wrong, and that reason is: you might get caught and have to apologize to a bunch of dumb peasants.

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#3

Post by X-3 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:37 pm

Also me

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#4

Post by Heroine of the Dragon » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:19 pm

Fascinating story. I remember reading about this some years ago. :D
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#5

Post by I am nobody » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:28 pm

As entertaining as some of the more creative theories are, I have to go with the boring one here: he died. He had basically the worst choice of conditions, equipment, and aircraft for a parachute jump possible, and he did it after significant drinking. The guy probably had an exceptionally hard landing in a part of the lake or woods that just wasn't searched before whatever was left of his body was buried/eaten. People have disappeared in much smaller areas and better conditions.

It's also really the only explanation for almost all of the money never showing up again. Nobody goes to that much effort to just sit on their reward.

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#6

Post by CaptHayfever » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:42 pm

D.B. Cooper is Adam West. Mystery solved.

And remember, "I'm-a Luigi, number one!"

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#7

Post by ScottyMcGee » Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:33 am

[QUOTE="I am nobody, post: 1628545, member: 34539"]As entertaining as some of the more creative theories are, I have to go with the boring one here: he died. He had basically the worst choice of conditions, equipment, and aircraft for a parachute jump possible, and he did it after significant drinking. The guy probably had an exceptionally hard landing in a part of the lake or woods that just wasn't searched before whatever was left of his body was buried/eaten. People have disappeared in much smaller areas and better conditions.

It's also really the only explanation for almost all of the money never showing up again. Nobody goes to that much effort to just sit on their reward.[/QUOTE]

There's a theory that the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens could have erased any evidence that they missed.

There's also another theory that he's dead because he was Richard McCoy Jr. - another airline hijacker in 1972 who did nearly the exact same thing again, except this time he was caught after the FBI matched fingerprints. When he was approached by FBI they exchanged gunfire and he died. It's been noted that his picture looks similar to the D. B. Cooper drawing. He also served in the Vietnam War as a pilot.
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#8

Post by SmoothOperator » Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:00 pm

I think I like the Richard McCoy theory best

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