April 4, 2013
In November 1971 the only unsolved hijacking in U.S. history occurred when an unidentified suspect commandeered a commercial jetliner and held its occupants for ransom. The case evolved into an American legend almost overnight because, as the authorities maintain, the culprit escaped by skydiving from the tail of the jetliner mid-flight with the ransom money tied around his waist. If that wasn’t machismo enough it was also reported that he had bailed out at 10,000 feet into a nasty winter storm over impassable mountain terrain at night while wearing only a lightweight overcoat, business suit and slip-on loafers; or did he?....
by David Keller
On Thanksgiving day back in 1971 America woke up to the telling and retelling of the astonishing exploits of an innovative and daring outlaw that the world would soon come to know as D.B. Cooper. The now infamous extortionist had actually provided the name Dan Cooper as he commenced his dramatic plan to hijack a commercial airliner and hold its passengers and crew for ransom. The debonair initials were errantly submitted by a correspondent under pressure to make deadline and by the time the discrepancy had been discovered the swooning American public had heard it so often that retraction was pointless; besides the court of public opinion had already ruled that D.B. imparts a certain mystique befitting a death defying swindler.
The news broadcasts continually replayed what little information they had; that the previous day an unidentified man who had given the name Cooper to the airline ticket agent had gone on to boldly extort $200,000 in cash from Northwest Orient Airlines. He then evaded capture by leaping from the tail of the jetliner mid-flight with the cash tied around his waist. If that wasn’t machismo enough, it was soon learned that the brazen skyjacker had bailed out at 10,000 feet into a nasty winter storm, over impassable mountain terrain, at night, wearing a lightweight overcoat, a business suit and a pair of slip on loafers. As they sat down to roast turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, Americans across the nation saved room for all the makings of what would soon become a modern day American legend.