Updated August 1, 2011: It sounds like there could be a new lead on old D.B. Check the U.K.’s Daily Mail online for the story.
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On a cold November night 36 years ago [in 1971], in the driving wind and rain, somewhere between southern Washington state and just north of Portland, Oregon, a man calling himself Dan Cooper parachuted out of a plane he’d just hijacked clutching a bag filled with $200,000 in stolen cash. — from the FBI file on the case
I remember the disappointment I felt in 1980 (was it 1980? I don’t remember the exact year) when I read the story of how some of the money from the ransom – identified by the serial numbers – was discovered. Given the penchant for law enforcement to exaggerate somewhat, I remember wondering if they were trying to excite new interest in the case. I mean, really – and I’m pretty ignorant about available technology back then – how could so many serial numbers be recorded in such a short time?
…his clothing and footwear were unsuitable for a rough landing…
As well – although my memory may be faulty – didn’t witnesses on the flight describe a man who was dressed in an overcoat and bulky clothing? I’m not certain, but I seem to recall this mentioned by the press at some point in time. That led me to believe that old D.B. quite possibly was well prepared for a cold night jump.
Whatever the case, alive or dead, D.B.’s exploit lives on in the imagination of many, including my own. I like to picture him sitting on an isolated beach down Mexico way, living free, cheap, easy and content in some small, isolated place with a tiny cantina nearby, protected by the amigos he has made since his arrival. He has learned enough Spanish to get by. He knows everyone. His suspected shady past is ignored by the locals because he has become accepted among them. As for all that money, well, not a lot is needed in many places down there, and I don’t think he cares about it any more.
Long live D.B. Cooper, wherever he is.
Link to FBI story here. There’s a link to more case details from November, 2006 at the bottom of that page.