D B Cooper #MysteryMonday

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.”

FBI composite of Dan Cooper, AKA D B Cooper

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.

24 thoughts on “D B Cooper #MysteryMonday

  1. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. If you haven’t been in the western forests, it’s hard to explain how big they are, and rugged. If someone died out there, the chances of finding a body are almost non existent. Remember, we have some big scavengers around, too. A black bear could eat the whole guy over a couple of days and you’d never find anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t spent any time in the forests of the Northwest, but I do know they are vast and dense. One of the FBI agents pointed out the fact Cooper wasn’t dressed to survive in the wilderness (unless he had protective clothing under the suit). Death from exposure is a real possibility. But as you said, whether he lived or died, we’ll probably never know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a great story, Joan, and one of those mysteries that will no doubt never be solved. It’s always fascinated me. There’s something about it that has an almost Robin Hood notoriety.

    I agree with Staci about Cooper’s manners. He could have made things horrible for the passengers and flight crew, especially the crew with him during that final flight. Part of me likes to think he did make it to someplace where he lived out his life in luxury.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, he could have made it difficult on all the passengers. In fact, according to the show Unsolved Mysteries, he insisted that the other passengers not know they had been hijacked. It was only after they got off the plane in Seattle that they learned.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It does make for a good mystery. With the money not being spent, it does make one wonder if he didn’t make it. However, someone finding only $5800.00 indicates he at least made it somewhere with the rest of the money.


  3. Oh, how I remember this story! (It was the year my son was born.) I would love to know for sure what happened, but I doubt we ever will. I do think he survived his initial plan, but how and where and how long he lived afterward, I can’t imagine. Staci’s theory is very plausible, and one of the few that explains that odd amount of buried money they found. I’m gonna go with that! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a fascinating story. I remember watching a show on it years ago where someone recreated his jump to prove it was possible. My theory? He survived and paid someone on the ground to get him out of the country. The person he paid realized (after the fact) who he was and what had happened, so he buried the money to avoid being arrested as an accessory. The heat never let up, so he could never retrieve the stashed money. Meanwhile, Cooper lived in luxury in a country without an extradition arrangement with the US. Where else could the money have gone?

    Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a great and very plausible theory. (One I’d never considered.) I do think he survived. At any rate, he would be in his 80s now so the likelihood of him being alive today is slim.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was always taken with his manners. He could easily have killed people. Or allowed them to stay in the cabin and let the air pressure change suck them out.

        I once thought he faked the jump and hid in the cargo department or wheel well or something. (I think there are doors in the floor that lead to lower compartments.) But how would he have blown the door? I really think he made the jump and lived. Someone would have found his body by now if he didn’t.

        Then again, would he really drag the parachute through the forest? So many questions!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. One thing I didn’t put in my post is that in those days a 727 rear door could be opened during flight. At first, he demanded they take off with it open, but the pilot refused, saying it was impossible. After this 727s were altered so they couldn’t be opened when the plane was in the air. Cooper also asked at the ticket counter if the plane was a 727. He knew his stuff.

        Liked by 2 people

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