Hey, y’all. Welcome to Mystery Monday. Each week, I share a mystery, a legend, or folklore. This week’s post isn’t about folklore or lengends, but is about one of the most notorious (and mysterious) hijackers in US history. This story, like many unsolved mysteries, has always intrigued me. Let’s get to it.
On November 24, 1971, a middle-aged man walked up to the ticket counter of Northwest Orient Airlines at Portland International Airport. He used cash to purchase a one-way ticket on Flight 305 to Seattle, Washington. The man identified himself as Dan Cooper, wore a dark suit, white shirt, black tie, and raincoat. He carried a briefcase.
After boarding, he handed a note to the flight attendant and asked that she sit beside him. Thinking it contained his phone number, she didn’t look at it. Cooper stated, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.”
He demanded $200,000, four parachutes, and that a fuel truck to be standing by in Seattle. Cooper then showed the attendant what appeared to be a bomb inside the briefcase. She informed the flight crew, they contacted air traffic control, which in turn notified the FBI.
The airline stated they wished to pay the ransom. FBI assisted the airline in obtaining the money. The 200K was in twenty-dollar bills. Each one was photographed and the serial numbers recorded.
In the meantime, the flight took off from Portland with thirty-five passengers and five crew members aboard. When it landed in Seattle, the money and parachutes were delivered, and Cooper allowed the passengers to go free. The flight crew and one flight attendant remained on board.
After refueling, the plane took off on a course set for Mexico City. After becoming airborne, Cooper ordered the flight attendant to join the flight crew. Shortly after that, an alarm indicated the back-stairwell door had been opened, followed by a rapid changed in the air pressure.
Somewhere over the southern part of Washington state, Cooper jumped. No one has seen him since. Many believe he died in the Washington forest, while others believe he survived.
In 1980, a young boy found $5800 buried along the banks of the Columbia River. Serial numbers matched those of the ransom money given to Cooper. The remaining money has never been located, and not a single bill has been in circulation.
Who was D B Cooper? No one knows for sure, but many believe he was a former US Army paratrooper named Robert Rackstraw. Rackstraw died of natural causes in his San Diego home in July. At one time, he claimed to be Cooper but later recanted his story.
The FBI suspended the official investigation into the hijacking in 2016. If you’d like to read more about the FBI’s investigation, click this link.
What do you think? Did Cooper survive? Will we ever learn his real identity? Share your thoughts in the comments.