The Only Unsolved Case Of Air Piracy In American History

Jet Airplane Landing at SunsetSo here’s a doozy I tripped over while wandering through the rabbit burrows of history the other day.

On this day in 1971 a man, whose identity is still unknown, hijacked a Boeing 727, demanded $200,000 in ransom, then jumped out of the plane and skydived to the ground.

He has never been found. No one knows who he is.

He brought a ticket on the flight under the name “Dan Cooper”, and a reporter later screwed up this detail, stating that the identity he used was a real man’s identity — D.B. Cooper – and this is the name that has stuck.

In 1980, wads of money from the ransom he collected were found in Washington State, which fueled the generation of even more theories and suspects, but despite there being dozens of suspects, no real evidence has ever appeared.

The FBI has maintained from the beginning that Cooper probably died in the risky parachute jump. But there is circumstantial and indirect evidence that says he knew planes and knew parachutes – enough to make the jump and possibly survive it.

I took an hour or so to read through the details of the hijacking and aftermath, and it’s one of those cases that makes you wonder what D.B. Cooper is doing now. It’s 43 years since the hijacking, and he would be in his seventies at least.

If he did survive the jump, did he enjoy the rest of his life? $200,000 back then is the equivalent of $1.6M in today’s money. Did he live a long and uneventful but very comfortable life?

Or was guilt too much for him? Did it drive him into an early grave?

There are all sorts of possible scenarios. Perhaps the weight of what he did forced him into telling someone, just to relieve the pressure. And they could have tried to blackmail him into giving them a share of the money, and the blackmail went wrong…

Perhaps he died of septicemia a week after the hijacking, from a scratch he got walking through the Washington wilderness.

Who knows? It’s a delicious mystery….


2 thoughts on “The Only Unsolved Case Of Air Piracy In American History”

  1. The television series Leverage did a great episode on this case. It was suspenseful and romantic. Perfect!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top