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Mystery of D.B. Cooper lives on despite new evidence

CooperDB081311_optBY PAM LOBLEY

In 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper boarded a plane in Portland, Oregon which was bound for Seattle. He settled into his seat in the Boeing 747, ordered a bourbon and water, and lit up a cigarette. He then handed the stewardess a note saying that he had a bomb in his briefcase.

D.B. Cooper, as he has since been mistakenly referred to by the media, then insisted the stewardess sit down next to him. He demanded $200,000 in cash and some parachutes. The plane landed in Seattle, Cooper got his cash, and the plane took off again. Cooper jumped out, and when the plane touched down in Reno, he was gone. No one has ever found him, or figured out who he really was.

A few weeks ago, a certain Marla Cooper contacted the FBI and said she believes her uncle was the man who hijacked that Northwest Orient plane 40 years ago. She told her story to several news outlets ( Her uncle, Lynn D. Cooper, known as L.D., died in 1999. She remembers being eight years old and overhearing her father discussing the hijacking with her Uncle L.D. She even provided the FBI with a guitar strap that L.D. had made, assuming it would have some of his DNA on it. The FBI has a clip-on tie with DNA on it from the hijacker. The guitar strap DNA did not match the tie DNA.

However, the clip-on tie itself is not infallible. They don’t know if the hijacker owned the tie, or just borrowed it for the hijacking. It could have had someone else’s DNA on it. Forensic evidence in this case is leading to nothing conclusive.

There is still no answer as to who this hijacker really was and what happened to him. Readers have been captivated by this story for decades, and likely our interest will continue. I can think of several reasons to love this story:

Mr. Cooper was able to order a cocktail on an airplane.

Mr. Cooper was able to smoke a cigarette on an airplane.

Mr. Cooper wore a tie on the airplane, unlike most passengers today who look like they just stepped out of the dormitory after an all-night study session.

The bomb was in his briefcase, not his shoes (déclassé!) or his underwear (EW!)

Mr. Cooper was able to get on an airplane with a made-up name.

Mr. Cooper asked for $200,000. He was realistic. He didn’t ask for $12 million, or the release of 200 hostages, or the preservation of grasslands in the west.

Mr. Cooper had no intention of killing himself. He wanted money, not senseless slaughter. And he wanted to live to enjoy his money.

He kept his bargain. Once he got the money, he left everyone alone and just jumped out. He didn’t try for more, he didn’t try to feel up the stewardess, he just took his ransom and left.

She was called a stewardess, not a flight attendant.

Comments (3)
3 Monday, 15 August 2011 08:06
Steve O.
I very much enjoyed the humorous touch to your article! It was an amazing thing what happened that night in 1971!
2 Saturday, 13 August 2011 20:06
it was absolutely a 727. this incident was at least part of the reason why the ventral airstairs were made inaccessable in flight on the 727s and the MD-80/DC-9 series. 747s can only be boarded/deboarded via side doors with the exception of the cargo variant which has a nose loading door that looks like a clam shell.

there is in fact a device called the "Cooper Vane" that was installed on those types of aircraft that acted like a weather vane putting aerodynamic forces on a latch that prevented the ventral stairwell from being lowered in flight.

all of this information is easily accessible.
1 Saturday, 13 August 2011 17:36
Steve Lubetkin
The plane was NOT a 747, it was, according to Wikipedia, a Boeing 727. The 747 does not have a tail staircase. Cooper left the plane out the tail staircase.

From Wikipedia: "Cooper boarded the aircraft, a Boeing 727–100 (FAA registration N467US)..."

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