Who was D.B. Cooper?

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

Who was D.B. Cooper?

The Answer:

The most popular question in relation to D.B. Cooper is not "Who is D.B. Cooper?" but rather "Where is D.B. Cooper?"

On the night before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper boarded a flight from Portland, Ore. to Seattle and passed a note to the flight attendant that he had a bomb. His demands for $200,000 cash and two sets of parachutes were granted when the plane landed in Seattle.

The plane took off again, this time with just Cooper, the flight attendant, and the flight crew on board. Shortly after takeoff, Cooper parachuted off the rear stairs of the plane into a storm somewhere over Washington state with his money in tow. Nobody has seen him since.

Not long afterward, the media found out that the FBI was investigating a man named D.B. Cooper in connection with the case. D.B. was soon cleared of all charges, but the name stuck, replacing the original "Dan Cooper" alias in media reports and the popular consciousness.

Despite an FBI investigation that included interviews with almost 100,000 suspects and witnesses, resulting in a case file 60 volumes thick, the Cooper case remains the only unsolved domestic skyjacking case in history.

The only sign of Cooper turned up in 1980, when a boy digging along the Columbia River found $5,800 of Cooper's cash, identified by the serial numbers.

The fate of this infamous American criminal was speculated about in a 1981 movie called The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper.

Cooper's jump would be impossible today. After the incident, Boeing 727's, like the one Cooper jumped from, were equipped with a device that prevents the rear stairs from being lowered during flight. The device is called a "Cooper Vane."

For more information about Cooper and his crime, check out this article.

-The Editors

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