It was November 24, 1971 that D.B. Cooper shocked the world by stepping off the back of a Boeing 727 into space with $200,000 (about $1 million in today’s cuurency), according to Fox News yesterday, November 24, 2015. He accomplished the impossible by parachuting into stormy weather from an altitude which many experts say shouldn’t be survivable. Cooper hijacked the plane and extorted $200,000 in ransom money before he parachuted into the pages of history.
Despite extensive manhunts, the case remains open today, according to the FBI. In 1980 a boy found several thousand dollars of the ransom money along the Columbia River. No one today other than Cooper knows for sure whether or not he survived his parachuting from 10,000 feet with winds in excess of 100 mph and temperatures well below zero. He wore only wraparound sunglasses, a thin suit and raincoat. The roaring thunderstorms which engulfed the Pacific Northwest that day prevented authorities from launching an immediate search. That delay may have allowed the mystery man to make his escape from the area in southwestern Washington State.
Cooper began his daring hijacking only moments after the Northwest Orient plane went wheels up. He showed an amazed flight attendant what appeared to be a bomb. He also told the astonished crew he wanted $200,000, four parachutes, and “no funny stuff.” Authorities met Cooper’s demands when the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Fortunately, most of the passengers were evacuated as Cooper remained on the plane in a scenario too incredible for even a movie scene. Cooper then ordered the plane be flown toward Mexico at a relatively low altitude. He further ordered the remaining crew into the cockpit.
Cooper then made his exit from the known world at 8:13 p.m. as the aircraft headed above the Lewis River in southwest Washington. Most experts assumed he was killed during the crazy jump from that altitude. But was he?
It was Brian Ingram who was digging a fire pit in the sand at a location referred to as Tena Bar on the Columbia River in 1980 when he uncovered three bundles of cash totaling $5,800 only inches below the surface. The world’s news media was interested when the serial numbers matched the Cooper ransom money, according to Citizens Sleuth.. The fact rubber bands were still intact around the bills fascinated investigators.
Did Cooper surivive the daring jump into history?
Experienced skydivers claim he would have died if he was a rookie jumper. However, several have asserted that if a person had six or seven practice jumps, one could survive the escapade. There have been several candidates mentioned for the identity of Cooper. In 2007, Geoffrey Gray’s New York magazine article, “Unmasking D.B. Cooper,” nominated Kenneth Christiansen as a possible suspect. He’d been a paratrooper who was first deployed shortly after World War II. Subsequently, he worked as a purser and mechanic for Northwest Orient Airlines. There were other clues pointing to Christiansen. He bought a house shortly after the crime and a flight attendant said there was a resemblance between Christiansen and Cooper. Before his death, Christiansen told his brother, “There is something you should know, but I cannot tell you!”
Another possible clue is a picture. After Kenny’s death, the photo was discovered in an old photo album. It showed Kenny walking in through the front door of his apartment in Sumner dressed similarly to the hijacker, and carrying a briefcase and paper bag similar to the items carried by Cooper. Some believe the picture is a sort of staged memento of the event only three weeks after the hijacking, according to Adventure Books.
The sister of an alleged accomplice Bernie Geestman, “Dawn J” identified the tie tack from the FBI picture of the tie left behind by the hijacker as belonging to Christiansen. She further said, “I thought he was the hijacker from the beginning…..so that’s where he got all the money.”
The FBI reports the case is still open.