One of the most captivating cases of unidentified people is arguably that of D.B. Cooper. Additionally, the case itself is unique to any other unidentified person case because it is the only unsolved air piracy case in history. So, who was D.B. Cooper and what became of him?
It was the afternoon of 24 November, 1971, when a man approached the flight counter in Portland International Airport. He was carrying a black suitcase and asked the employee behind the desk for a one-way ticket to Seattle, giving the name “Dan Cooper.” He was given seat 18C on the Boeing 727-100 which was departing at 2:50PM. Mr. Cooper was described as being 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall and approximately in his mid-40s. Once aboard, he ordered a bourbon and soda and lit a cigarette.
Shortly after the airplane took off, Cooper handed a note to flight attendant, Florence Schaffner. Assuming the note was just Cooper’s phone number, she placed it in her purse without reading it. Cooper then leant forward and whispered: “Miss, you better look at that note. I have a bomb.” After getting the attendant’s attention, Cooper then told her his demands: $200,000, tour parachutes, and a fuel truck awaiting in Seattle to refuel. The Seattle police and FBI were contacted and scrambled to assemble Cooper’s demands in time for landing. When the aircraft landed, the passengers disembarked. Cooper waited onboard while the money and parachutes were delivered.
While refuelling, Cooper detailed his flight plan to the crew onboard. He wanted the pilot to head towards Mexico City at the minimum speed possible. Then they were off again. The weather had worsened and they were now flying through a severe rainstorm. After being in the air for approximately 20 minutes, Cooper ordered the flight attendant to the cockpit. As she complied, she turned around to see Cooper seemingly fashioning something around his waist. Moments later, a warning light in the cockpit indicating that the airstair system had been activated. Following the warning, there was a change in air pressure, indicating the airplane door was open. Cooper was gone. He had jumped from the airplane, leaving behind just a neck tie on his seat.
The pilot had been flying over Lewis River in southwestern Washington when Cooper jumped from the airplane. Despite an extensive manhunt, D.B. Cooper was never found or identified. The FBI later released the ransom serial numbers to financial institutions in the hopes that somebody somewhere could have come into contact with the mysterious hijacker. In 1980, a little boy discovered three packets of the random cash while playing on a beach in Columbia River, approximately 9 miles from Vancouver.
The cash matched the serial numbers of the ransom cash. But what did that mean? Could it have accidentally fallen out whilst he threw himself from the airplane or did it land with his body?
Over the forthcoming years, there have been a plethora of theories as to the real identity of D.B. Cooper and whether or not he survived the jump. To this date, the case still remains unsolved.