24 November 1972: the mysterious ‘DB Cooper’ hijacking

On the day before America’s Thanksgiving holiday in 1972, a man dressed in a suit and tie, and calling himself Dan Cooper, boarded Northwest Airlines’ flight 305 from Portland to Seattle. Soon after take-off, he handed a note to one of the flight attendants, asked her to sit down next to him, and showed her the bomb in his suitcase.

Cooper was hijacking the plane.

He demanded $200,000 in cash, four parachutes and a full tank of fuel for the plane when it landed in Seattle.

Once on the ground and the cash had been handed over, Cooper allowed the passengers off. Then, with the pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer and one cabin attendant aboard, ordered the plane to head for Mexico. He insisted the plane fly low, slow, and unpressurised.

Once the plane was airborne, he locked the flight attendant in the cockpit, donned one of the parachutes, and lowered the rear stairs. Then, at 10,000 feet he jumped into the night, somewhere over the Cascade mountains. He was never seen again.

Many believe he didn’t survive the jump. But no parachute or body was ever found.

In 1978, a card with instructions for opening the rear stairs of a Boeing 727 was found by a deer hunter in the woods under the plane’s flightpath. And in 1980, $5,800 of the ransom money was found on the banks of the Columbia river.

But nothing of the man who called himself Dan Cooper, and who the media for some reason called DB Cooper, was ever heard again. Despite over 1,000 suspects being investigated, his true identity has never been known. The FBI’s case is still open.