Oregon September 22, 2020
The Oregon Mystery Of D. B. Cooper Is The Only Unsolved Case Of Commercial Air Piracy In The World
Oregon has had many unsolved murders, crimes, and disappearances over the years, but one case is particularly famous. The mystery of what happened to D. B. Cooper in 1971 may never be solved.
On November 24, 1971, a man using the name "Dan Cooper" boarded a Northwest Orient Airlines flight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Shortly after takeoff, he handed Florence Schaffner, a fight attendant, a note that said he had a bomb.
The man opened his bag and showed Florence the bomb, then stated his demands: $200,000 in cash, four parachutes, and a fuel truck in Seattle that would be prepared to refuel the plane when it landed. Florence notified the pilot of the hijacking, who notified air traffic control. The FBI and airline were both immediately contacted, and Northwest Orient Airlines agreed to pay the ransom.
The man, later called D. B. Cooper, was described as a white man in his 40s. He was between 5'10", and 6' tall, and weighed between 170-180 pounds. He was wearing a business suit, white shirt, and tie, and put on dark sunglasses during the flight.
The pilot notified passengers that there was a delay in landing due to a mechanical difficulty, and the plane landed in Seattle two hours late. While the plane circled the airspace above Seattle, Mr. Cooper was calm and polite. He paid his drink tab, and offered to request meals for the flight crew once they landed.
When the flight landed, a Northwest employee delivered the cash and parachutes to Mr. Cooper, who then allowed the passengers and two flight attendants to disembark.
After refueling, the plane took off again, heading toward Mexico City on D. B. Cooper's orders. Four other people, including the pilot, co-pilot, one flight attendant, and a flight engineer were the only other people onboard.
Not long after takeoff, Cooper told the flight attendant to join the crew in the cockpit. Just a few minutes later, it's believed that he opened the rear airstair and jumped from the plane. Though five other aircraft were tailing the flight, none of the pilots saw Cooper jump.
When the plane landed in Reno, Nevada about two hours later, the airstair was still deployed. A search of the plane showed that D. B. Cooper was not onboard.
An extensive manhunt ensued. The FBI found fingerprints on the plane as well as Cooper's abandoned tie and tie clip. Agents interviewed everyone who came into contact with Cooper, and developed sketches that were sent out all over the country.
FBI agents also questioned as many as 800 possible suspects, ultimately narrowing it down to 24 men, none of whom were ever implicated in the crime. A thorough search of potential landing zones was conducted several times, but no evidence of Cooper or his parachute was found.
Based on weather conditions and the plane's speed and altitude, the FBI believed that Cooper did not survive his jump.
In 1980, a little boy vacationing with his family on the Columbia River was digging a hole for a campfire when he uncovered three packets of $20 bills.
The serial numbers on the bills matched those given to Cooper. The rest of the ransom money has never been found, and it's believed that the money has never been circulated.
Even after one of the most comprehensive investigations in U.S. history, the case has never been solved. The FBI released a sketch of D. B. Cooper with age progression many years after the hijacking, but ultimately suspended the active investigation in 2016.
As of 2020, the D. B. Cooper case is the only unsolved air piracy case of a commercial airline in history.
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Another unsolved mystery is the existence of Bigfoot in Oregon. Read more about the legend
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