D.B. Cooper Day: Mystery and intrigue over the one who vanished from thin air

A day when a mysterious plane hijacker disappeared into thin air and was never found alive or dead.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 06:04 PM IST
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Who is D. B. Cooper | FBI

If you are interested in mysteries or intrigue, then this day is certainly for you. Because mystery is filled in the story of this day. A day when a mysterious plane hijacker disappeared into thin air and was never found alive or dead.

The true identity of this man till date is a mystery, let's find out why this day is celebrated.

History of D.B. Cooper Day

The story of this day dates back to November 24, 1971, when a suited mysterious man hijacked an airplane, stole a briefcase full of money and parachutes away as a daring escape. The man had purchased a one way ticket to Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, in the name of Dan Cooper, a.k.a. D.B. Cooper. He was in his mid-40s, six feet tall and was dressed in a simple suit, trench coat, and loafers. He also carried a briefcase.

Once the plane was in the air he passed a note to the flight attendant named Florence Schaffner, telling her that he was carrying a bomb and the plane had been hijacked. He showed the bomb to Schaffner and it looked like a collection of wires, batteries and red sticks.

He later gave her a second note demanding $200,000 in $20 bills and two parachutes to be given to him once they landed in Seattle. He also wanted the plane to be refueled for subsequent takeoff. Once they landed in Seattle, he let go of 36 passengers and all his demands were met. Once the plane was refueled he asked the two pilots, a flight engineer and a flight attendant that were forced to stay on-board to fly to Mexico City, under 10,000 feet and at a speed slower than 200 knots. Finally when they were somewhere above Ariel, Washington he jumped out with his parachute and disappeared into thin air and was never to be seen again.

The investigation

This case, for very obvious reasons, took over the nation. Once the investigation began, multiple suspects were interviewed. In the first five years, the police were investigating the case, they called for about 800 suspects, but all of them were cleared. Initially, the FBI thought that he could have had a military past, but they later dropped the speculation considering the risky and dangerously planned escape plan. The investigation was called off after they received no advancement in the investigation, and it was better to put the resources to use somewhere else.

This is the only unsolved air piracy case for the FBI.

Later, in 1980, an 8 year old boy named Brina Ingram found about $5,800 along the edge of the Columbia River, near Vancouver, Washington. These currency notes had serial numbers matching the serial number of bills given to D. B. Cooper.

If we converted the money to today's value, it would be somewhere around $1.4 million.

In remembrance of this mystery in Ariel, Washington, where he was believed to have landed, the anniversary of the hijacking is observed as D.B. Cooper Day.

How to observe D. B. Cooper Day

You can go on a trip to Ariel and attend the D. B. Cooper Day Party at the Dona Eliott's Ariel General Store and Tavern. Though it was closed down years ago, there were talks in 2019 to reopen it and run a campaign to raise funds for this.

There are multiple documentaries around this mystery. You can watch them and make a movie day out of it.

If you are more of a book geek, then you also have the option to read the book written by FBI officers that were investigating this case. There are also other books around the mystery of who is D. B. Cooper.

If you are looking for an adrenaline rush then you go skydiving or parachuting. Or you can let out your inner Sherlock Holmes and try to solve the old cold case.

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