The D.B. Cooper Case: The Most Famous Unsolved Hijacking in History

The FBI has never been able to identify D.B. Cooper, and his fate remains a mystery

by Sededin Dedovic
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The D.B. Cooper Case: The Most Famous Unsolved Hijacking in History
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Dan Cooper, also known as D.B. Cooper, was the media pseudonym given to the man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft on November 24, 1971. He demanded $200,000 in ransom and four parachutes, and then parachuted out of the plane somewhere between Seattle, Washington, and Reno, Nevada.

The FBI has never been able to identify Cooper, and the case remains unsolved.

The Hijacking

On the evening of November 24, 1971, a man purchased a one-way ticket for Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington.

He paid for the ticket in cash and used the name "Dan Cooper." After the plane took off, Cooper handed a note to flight attendant Florence Schaffner. The note said that he had a bomb in his briefcase and that he demanded $200,000 in ransom and four parachutes.

Cooper also told Schaffner not to tell anyone about the note. Schaffner showed the note to the pilot, who immediately relayed the information to the authorities. The plane was diverted to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where it landed safely at 2:45 p.m.

When the plane landed in Seattle, Cooper released the passengers but kept the crew members hostage. He then demanded that the plane be refueled and that he be given four new parachutes.

The Parachute Jump

At 7:40 p.m., the plane took off again, heading for Mexico City.

However, shortly after 10:00 p.m., Cooper ordered the pilots to lower the rear stairs of the plane and fly at a low altitude. At 10:15 p.m., Cooper jumped out of the plane, carrying the ransom money and a parachute. The pilots immediately contacted the authorities and landed the plane safely in Reno, Nevada.

The Search for D.B. Cooper

The FBI immediately launched a massive search for Cooper, but no trace of him was ever found. The FBI investigated hundreds of leads and interviewed thousands of people, but they were never able to identify Cooper or determine his fate.

In 1980, eight-year-old boy found three $20 bills buried in the woods near Vancouver, Washington. The serial numbers on the bills matched those of the ransom money that had been given to Cooper. However, no other evidence of Cooper was ever found.

In 2008, a man named Thomas Colbert claimed that his father, Robert Rackstraw, was D.B. Cooper. Colbert provided the FBI with a number of items that he said belonged to his father, including a parachute that he said was the same one that Cooper used.

However, the FBI was unable to verify Colbert's claims and the case remains unsolved. The hijacking of Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 is one of the most famous unsolved crimes in American history. The FBI has never been able to identify D.B. Cooper, and his fate remains a mystery.

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