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Dan Cooper’s Parachute

He said his name was Dan Cooper. Someone mistakenly reported the name as “D.B. Cooper” later and it stuck. But the name he gave was Dan. He said he had a bomb, and to the flight crew on the Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle, it looked like he was telling the truth. Dan Cooper wanted $200,000 and a parachute or he’d set off the bomb.

Cooper got the ransom, got the parachutes, and on November 24, 1971 he jumped from the rear stairs of the 727 he’d hijacked, into the freezing night and into history.

Authorities think Cooper was killed that night. They say he was an inexperienced criminal who overreached, bit off more than he could chew. The conditions for the parachute jump were terrible, the terrain below was wild and unforgiving. Even a paratrooper would have been intimidated by the conditions surrounding Cooper’s jump.

Others are not so sure. After all, nearly $6000 of the ransom money was recovered in 1980. It was found by a kid playing on the banks of the Columbia River. Did Cooper bury the loot? If he did, what happened to the rest of it? The FBI recorded the serial numbers on the bills. They’ve never been put into circulation.

There may be a new clue. From the AP and FBI Agent Larry Carr: “Children playing outside their home near Amboy found the chute’s fabric sticking up from the ground in an area where their father had been grading a road […] They pulled it out as far as they could, then cut the parachute’s ropes with scissors.”

Agent Carr checked the site where the parachute was found against a map made during the early days of the investigation into Cooper’s crime. It was easily within Cooper’s likely “landing zone.”

No one can say that the buried parachute was Cooper’s. Not yet. But if it is, so many questions arise: did he bury it, or was the area where it was found wild in 1971? If it was wild, the parachute could have simply been buried by time, already invisible by the time developers started building in the area. The parachute could even mark the site of Cooper’s demise. But if he buried it, that means he got away. He may have even buried the $5800 found in 1980.

All of this again prompts a version question that has kept people interested in this case for 36 years — if Dan “D.B.” Cooper did make it safely to the ground with his money in hand, what happened after that?

Consider it an open thread from here on out. Please keep the discussion on-topic and civil. Also, please remember I reserve the right to delete comments for any reason.