FBI Ends 45-Year Hunt for Hijacker D.B. Cooper

The Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest

By Paul Riegler on 13 July 2016
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Some 45 years after a man calling himself Dan Cooper purchased a one-way ticket, using cash, from Portland, Oregon to Seattle on Northwest Orient Airline and then hijacked the plane, the Federal Bureau of Investigation closed its books on one of the most famous unsolved cases in aviation history.

“We have arrived at our conclusion today that it was just time to close the case because there isn’t anything new out there,” said Frank Montoya, Jr., the special agent in charge of the case, at a news conference.

“Cooper was a quiet man who appeared to be in his mid-40s, wearing a business suit with a black tie and white shirt,” the FBI said about the case on its website. After the flight was airborne, he handed the stewardess (the term flight attendant was not yet in use) a note saying he had a bomb and opened his briefcase as proof. Once in Seattle, he released the flight’s 36 passengers in exchange for $200,000 and four parachutes and kept several crewmembers on board. The plane took off with a destination of Mexico City but Cooper jumped out of the plane with the money strapped to his body somewhere over the Pacific Northwest.

Although he’s known in folklore as “D.B. Cooper,” the media created that name at the time, the FBI said. No one knows his true identity or whether he survived the jump. Nine years after the hijacking, a package was found containing $5,800 in $20 bills matching the serial numbers given to Cooper. The bureau is retaining that and other pieces of evidence for historical purposes including pieces of parachute debris and Cooper’s black tie, which he took off before he jumped.

“We would have loved to have solved this, there’s no question about it,” Montoya told reporters at the news conference. “It doesn’t feel good to acknowledge that this is the only unsolved skyjacking in American history.”

In the meantime, the crime that captured the American imagination, making Cooper a folk hero to some, will live on in movies, television programs, books, and song.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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