Episode 169: DB Cooper: Hijacker, Thief, Deadman?

This episode is brought to you by El Yucateco

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we look at the case that the FBI was unable to solve for over 40 years—the hijacking and disappearance of DB Cooper. The day before Thanksgiving, November, 24, 1971, travel was busy with people trying to get home for the holiday. One plane that was bound from Portland to Seattle, however, had different plans. A man who bought a ticket under the name Dan Cooper approached the counter of Northwest Orient Airlines in Portland, Oregon (the press accidentally called him DB Cooper instead of Dan, and the name has stuck ever since).

He spent a whopping $18 to buy a one-way ticket. It was a 30 minute flight. In the air, he drank a bourbon and soda, like you do, smoked a cigarette, and then casually told a stewardess he had a bomb. He showed it to her in his briefcase and said they needed to land and not let anyone off the plane.

They complied. They landed and refueled, and he demanded $200,000 and four parachutes be sent to the plane. Once the authorities brought it, he let the 36 passengers go, but he kept the flight crew on board. They took off and were told to head to Mexico. However, shortly after takeoff (around 8:10 PM), he strapped on the parachute, bundled up the money, and bailed out the back door of the Boeing 727.

And nobody heard from DB Cooper since. The FBI did extensive tests and searches. They had several planes following his the night of the disappearance. Nobody saw him parachute since it was dark and stormy. They sent 1000 people to the ground the next day to scour the area. No money was found, no body, no parachute. Nothing.

Most people think he must have died in the jump. You don’t survive a parachuting at night in a freezing cold storm wearing nothing but a business suit. Unless you’re a badass with serious military training, that is. It could happen… Nine years later, a kid found $5800 in twenties about 20 miles from the flight path, and the FBI confirmed it was Cooper money.

In 2011, the FBI’s Field Agent Larry Carr did a hail-mary pass and opened up all their evidence to the public. They helped create a group of scientists and investigators called the Citizen Sleuths who used the power of the internet and modern forensics. What did they find? Do they think Cooper survived? Who are the major suspects? What did an electron microscope discover about trace elements on Cooper’s tie? Listen, laugh, learn.

Some good links to find out more about Cooper:

https://www.fbi.gov/history/famous-cases/db-cooper-hijacking

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLOgfkv4alk

http://citizensleuths.com/db-cooper-what-you-need-to-know.html

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