On November 27, 1971, in Portland, Oregon, a man claiming to be “Dan Cooper” bought a ticket for Northwest-Orient Airlines Flight 305 to Seattle, Washington. Dressed in a sharp dark suit with a pearl tiepin, this forty-five year-old man was about six feet tall with black hair (Abacha and Gilmore 233). No one would suspect him of going down in American history as the only man to ever escape capture after hijacking a U.S. plane (Warchol 1).
Soon after takeoff, after having his cigarette, bourbon, and a soda, Cooper handed a note to one of the two stewardesses on the plane (Warchol 1; “D.B. Cooper” 1). The stewardess, Florence Schaffner, planned to read it later until one of the other passengers urged her to take a look at it (“D. B. Cooper” 1). The note read, “I HAVE A BOMB IN MY BRIEFCASE. I WILL USE IT IF NESSECARY. I WANT YOU TO SIT NEXT TO ME. YOU ARE BEING HIJACKED” (Vartabedian). Cooper requested $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. The FBI supplied the money and parachutes and because they feared he would jump with other;s they did not dare to tamper with the parachutes. At the Seattle Airport, Cooper released all the passengers and one stewardess in exchange for his demands.
With the rest of the crew as hostage, Cooper ordered William Scott, the pilot, to fly the plane to Mexico City (Abacha and Gilmore 233). He demanded the Boeing 727 be flown no higher than 10,000 feet, still allowing him to jump, and no faster than 150 knots, making it difficult for any other plane to follow (“D. B. Cooper” 1). Scott explained that they would need to refuel and turned the plane towards Reno, Nevada. At 8:24 pm, Cooper parachuted out of the back of the plane into a cold storm in the forest of Washington, leaving behind a tie and a pearl tie pin (Abacha and Gilmore 233; Vartabedian).
The FBI searched the forest over and over but found no trace of the money, the parachute, or Cooper (Abacha and Gilmore 234). Along the Columbia River...