Thursday, Aug. 04, 2011

D.B. Cooper, 1971

It's undeniably one of the most spectacular escapes in history. The day before Thanksgiving in 1971, a man who identified himself as "Dan Cooper" boarded a Northwest Airlines flight in Portland, Ore., wearing a suit and tie. He ordered a bourbon and soda before passing a note to the stewardess saying, "I have a bomb in my briefcase. You are being hijacked." The demand: $200,000 in unmarked bills, two parachutes and a fuel truck. After conveying his instructions, Cooper ordered a second bourbon and soda and paid his tab, telling the stewardess to keep the change.

When the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Cooper exchanged the hostages for the money and parachutes and told the flight crew to fly low at minimum speed toward Mexico City. But 30 minutes into the flight, Cooper deployed the back stairs of the airplane, jumped and was never seen again. The FBI scoured the area and pursued more than 1,000 leads but came up empty. Then, in August 2011, a woman came forward saying that her uncle Lynn Doyle Cooper, a logger from Oregon, was the hijacker. And though a Portland grand jury indicted "John Doe, a.k.a. D.B. Cooper" for air piracy in 1976 — ensuring that no statute of limitations would expire — Lynn Doyle Cooper has been dead for more than a decade.