Posts Tagged ‘Northwest Orient’

I see this one a lot when I am looking for interesting tales, D B Cooper seems to be quite an adventurous tale and so I have included him here. In 1971 he hijacked an airliner and threatened to blow it up, he extorted $200,000 from the owner, Northwest Orient, and then leapt from the airborne 747 with 21 lbs worth of $20 bills strapped to his torso.

The fact he has never been caught means he either pulled off the perfect crime or died trying. Either way he makes for a fantastic story! And one for armchair enthusiasts to really get their teeth into, with pages of information and lots of speculation.

Perhaps what I love most about this, no bystanders were injured although law enforcement argues that he did put several dozen lives at risk. The FBI’s ego was probably pretty damaged though, and not long after he had disappeared FBI Director, J Edgar Hoover, died knowing that they had not yet got their man. His crime seemed to help with things like passenger security screening and other regulations to try and prevent further troubles but ultimately he was able to walk around the jet carrying a bomb.

For some reason this chap just incites smiles rather than outrage, most likely because of the buccaneer type style under which this crazy stunt was performed.

Flight 305 was a Boeing 747 that started the day before in Washington DC for its flight path, DB cooper boarded at the Portland International Airport with a ticket to Seattle-Tacoma and gave them the name Dan Cooper. He was nondescript and no one took particular notice of him, again this all went in his favour.

Moments after the jet was airborn he passed a note to Flo Schaffner, as an air hostess she was used to come ons and pocketed it. He then waited until she passed and whispered to her she should read it, he had a bomb. Her and another attendant, Tina Mucklow, then went to the Captain and told him about the whole thing. The FBU placed a call to the Donald Nyrop, the president of Northwest Orient, they complied with the monetary demand, probably as it was a smaller price to pay than the disaster and media fall out that could have occurred.

The precise wording of his note cannot be found as it was lost, he said he wanted it back and took it with him, there was an agreement it had something like ‘no funny business’ on it however. Cooper told Schaffner that he was to stay aloft until the money and chutes were ready in Seattle, he showed her wire and cylinders that might have been dynamite and she dutifully relayed the message.

Captain Scott told passengers it was a mechanical problem and they had to circle around before landing, all but a few passengers were aware of the situation. He had calculated how they had to be weighted so they were hoping that he would make his skydive safely on that basis. The notes were hurriedly copied on to microfilm to try and make a way to track them and he wanted two chutes. They got what he demanded and then aboard the jet Cooper had a bourbon and water, he then oddly offered to pay for it!

Mucklow said his behaviour was curious, that he was not cruel or nasty and seemed very calm. The FBI however said he was boozy, raunchy and obscene compared to the person that was with him most. Mucklow said it was not the case and she said that he requested the meals for the crew be brought on board once the place was on the ground in Seattle.

Cooper seemed to be at least familiar with Seattle and was well acquainted with skydiving and schooling in jet aerodynamics. With cash and parachutes ready they were able to land just 30 minutes behind schedule. Captain Scott was sent to get the money and chutes, the 36 passengers and Schaffner were allowed to disembark but he kept Tina Mucklow, and the three men from the cockpit. Through the Captain and FAA official asked to come aboard, presumably to tell him the consequences of his actions but Cooper denied that request.

Cooper then had those left on the plain fly up to an altitude no higher than 10,000 feet. The wing flaps set at 15 degrees and the airspeed of no more than 150 knots. He said he was wearing a wrist altimeter to monitor it. Cooper knew that the plane was capable of it, unlike larger types. Cooper ordered a full refuelling at Seattle and then they negotiated the flight plan he wanted, and Scott was told that the cabin should not be pressurised so that it would minimise the potential violent surge of air when he dropped the aft stairs. With this done they headed off… two hours and six minutes after the plane had arrived in Seattle.

Somewhere around Lewis River, north of Portland, the aft stairs appeared to have been lowered, they thought he may well have jumped then but they were not going to risk their lives assuming it and flew to Reno where they were to touch down. Once they landed they gave it five minutes and left the cockpit, the hijacker was gone, even his hat and coat had been taken. The cash and one set of parachutes was also taken too.

February 10th, 1980 an 8 year-old boy was digging along the sand of the Columbia River bank, he found three bundles of bills all were $20’s and matched the numbers of Coopers loot. Some say that this was the evidence of his demise, more was found deposited further up and this led to more searches, but others suggest he may have realised the numbers on the notes would be trashed and he got rid pretty fast. So far the money that hasn’t been discovered has not been used or found so there’s nothing to suggest he did get around to spending it.

Whatever the end result this has been used for stories and even a comic book called Dan Cooper! If he is alive he’s in his 70’s probably and keeping the story to himself.

DBCooper.jpg
By U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. – http://www.coasttocoastam.com/cimages/var/ezwebin_site/storage/images/coast-to-coast/repository/thumbnails/d.b.-cooper-sketches/913568-1-eng-US/D.B.-Cooper-Sketches.jpg, http://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/fbi-ends-d-b-cooper-investigation, Public Domain, Link