June 20, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

The Legend of DB Cooper

3 min read

Yes, the Legend of DB Cooper is real. The first time I heard about DB Cooper was in 2004; it was this year that Without a Paddle hit theaters. This movie, starring Dax Shepard, Matthew Lillard, and Seth Green, is not one that I recommend; however, the plot revolves around DB Cooper and his extorted money. As the hijacking took place in 1972, before my time, I assumed that the “legend of DB Cooper” was just part of the movie’s plot. (Below is a clip from the movie.)

Just one year later, in 2005, the hit show Prison Break came to television. It didn’t take long before the first season mentioned DB Cooper. (It would become a key part of the series.)

Could it be? Could the legend of DB Cooper be real? 

For at least one year I thought DB Cooper was some fictional event made up for a movie plot! Little did I know that DB Cooper was an alias for the man who pulled off the only unsolved case of air piracy in American aviation history.


DB Cooper

On November 21, 1971, a man, under the alias of Dan Cooper, purchased an airplane ticket and boarded Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. Once the plane took off, Dan Cooper informed one of the flight attendants that he had a bomb on his person. Cooper had officially hijacked the plane and then passed on his demands: $200,000 in cash, four parachutes (two primary and two reserve), and a fuel truck to meet the plane when it landed in Seattle.

Once the plane was refueled, in Seattle, it set off toward Cooper’s chosen destination in Mexico. Less than an hour in flight, Cooper jumped from the plane–with the cash and two of the parachutes. That was the last anyone saw of DB Cooper.

Local police and FBI agents began questioning possible suspects. In hopes that the man had used his real name or a similar alias, the police brought in an Oregon man with a police record, named DB Cooper. The police quickly ruled him out, but a wire service reporter confused the suspects name with the alias; therefore, the alias of Dan Cooper became permanently immortalized as DB Cooper.

Although the FBI believe that Cooper probably did not survive his risky jump, the agency maintains an active case file. What I find most interesting is the suspect list. Even though there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of suspects, the main suspect list is intriguing (to me anyway).

The legend of DB Cooper, even though forty years old, still makes it in the news. Just as of two months ago, DB Cooper related news was in the media. On April 26, 2013, Earl J. Cossey’s body was found in his home. The police firmly believe that  Earl’s death was a homicide. So how is this homicide related to DB Cooper? Earl was a skydiving instructor in 1971, and he was responsible for packing the parachutes that were given to DB Cooper. Over the years he worked as a consultant for the FBI looking at parachutes that were believed to have been used by DB Cooper. The police’s official response on whether or not the murder was related to DB Cooper is as follows: ”At this point I would be reticent to say yes. We are in the early stages and we have a lot to do so at this particular point I can’t say so one way or the other.”

For more information on this topic, I highly recommend reading the DB Cooper article on Wikipedia.