An Oklahoma woman recently claimed that her deceased uncle was the infamous D.B. Cooper and the FBI are looking into it, so case closed right? Not likely. The woman’s story is just a little to contrived for this blogger and she has little evidence except proximity to the crime and a conversation she overheard 40 years ago. Unlikely as it may be it did get me thinking, how can someone just disappear? So taking a page from the D.B Cooper book of disappearances I will walk you through it.
Come up with an awesome alias
If you’re going to disappear, but not actually die, the first thing you need is a great alias so it’s harder to track you. D.B. Cooper was extra awesome because although he registered for his Portland to Seattle flight as “Dan Cooper”, due to a media error he was known as D.B. Cooper. Double alias? Double awesome!
Commit a “victimless” crime
If you’re going to disappear and become a folk legend you might as well commit a heist on your way out right? After his plane took off and began its 30 minute flight to Seattle D.B. passed a flight attendant a neatly printed note reading:
“I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.”
Nice! Straight to the point, no messing around. He demanded that when they landed in Seattle they have $200,000 in twenty dollar bills, four parachutes and a fuel truck waiting for him on the runway. He said he wanted to go to Mexico. When they landed in Seattle all his requests were met and the authorities handed over 10,000 twenty dollar bills all with serial numbers beginning with “L”. Cooper was true to his word and released the passengers keeping only a few members of the flight crew on board and they headed for Mexico. So no harm no foul right? He hasn’t hurt anyone except the airlines and really, with their tiny seats and hard to open peanuts they sort of deserve it.
Make a dramatic exit
After the plane took off D.B. ordered all of the crew members into the cockpit where they noticed that a door had been opened and the airstairs lowered. When the plane landed in Reno, Nevada to refuel D.B. Cooper had disappeared.
Through a simulation using the same kind of airplane and a 200 pound sled authorities were able to pin point the location they believe D.B. would have landed. After a thorough land, aerial and water search of the suspected landing zone authorities had to admit they had no evidence directly pointing to the crash site. There has been no verifiable sightings of D.B. Cooper since that day, November 24, 1971.
Keep ‘em guessing
Cooper left behind some clues to mystify the authorities which have led to all sorts of theories, leads and possible suspects. Below find some of the clues keeping the mystery motor running:
a) D.B. is thought to have been an Airforce veteran as he had a solid understanding of how to fly the airplane. During the refueling of the plane in Seattle he discussed the flight plan in-depth with the plane’s crew. He requested they fly the plane at its minimum speed and that it not go higher than 10,000 feet in altitude. To make sure they didn’t speed up he ordered the landing gear be kept down and to keep them below his desired altitude that the cabin remain depressurized.
b) Authorities do not believe Cooper was an experienced sky diver as anyone with experience would not have jumped into such awful conditions. It was a dark, rainy night with 200 mph winds and he was wearing a trench coat and dress shoes. He didn’t even notice that the parachutes, provided from a local sky diving school, was for training purposes only and the emergency chute was sewn shut.
c) In 1978 a card describing how to open the rear airstairs of a 727 (verified to be from the hijacked plane) was found in Castle Rock, Washington quite North of the supposed landing site.
d) An eight year old digging in the Columbia River in 1980 found three packs of the ransom money still tightly bound with elastic bands. Scientists said that the distance covered by the bills and the fact they were buried in the river bank is easily explained by the bills being washed from the landing site and drifting to the Columbia. But how can they explain that there were 10 bills missing from one of the tightly bound packs? Plus, why would the three packs stay together if the river was controlling them? And why weren’t the rubber bands disintegrated after 7 years in the river? None of the remaining 9700 bills have been found.
e) Last but not least, the FBI released new information in 2007 that they have obtained a partial DNA sequence for Cooper from a tie clip he left on the plane as well as finger prints left on his plane ticket. So, should they ever find a potential D.B. it shouldn’t be too hard to prove/disprove his authenticity.
Most people (investigators included) think D.B. Cooper died when he jumped out of the plane on the rainy night in November, but wouldn’t it be great if he didn’t? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if he’s been living quietly somewhere laughing every time a new piece of “evidence” is discovered? I hope so, and I hope this lady’s uncle turns out to be a fake, I want the mystery to live on.
What do you think happened to D.B.? Do you know of any neat disappearance stories? They’re pretty fascinating and I’d love to hear about them, just no stories about children, I just about lost it when I read about the Lindbergh baby!