On Nov. 24, 1971 on Thanksgiving eve a passenger listed as “Dan Cooper” on his ticket boarded Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, bound from Portland, to Seattle, Wash. The FBI believes he was the only person on the plane that afternoon who knew that it was about to be hijacked Cooper, who wore a black suit and sported a sensible hairstyle, single handedly took over the Boeing 727 airplane and held its passengers and crew hostage. He threatens to detonate an explosive device, Cooper demanded $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. Today, that amount of money is roughly equal to 1 to 2.5 million dollars. He directed the crew to land as planned at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. There, he released the 36 passengers and picked up the money. He directed the plane to fly toward Mexico.
But the plane never made it to Mexico. It landed in Reno, Nevada., with Cooper no longer aboard. At 10,000 feet above sea level, over the mountainous and remote forests of Washington state, D.B. Cooper strapped the ransom cash to his body, lowered the passenger staircase from the plane’s belly, and parachuted out of the 727 and into the books of mystery. He had pulled off one of the greatest heists in the history of crime. Surprisingly little is known about this man who hijacked Flight 305. He could be anyone. His temper during the hijacking was calm and courteous. His name was a pseudonym. And, most importantly, his body has never up to this date been found. Is D.B. Cooper still alive? Who was he?The FBI has discounted many suspects. Over the past three decades, the FBI has investigated nearly 1,000 suspects. Mysteriously, the real identity of D.B. Cooper remains unknown.
But did D. B. Cooper get away with it?
No one can say for certain. We do know that he could have survived the dangerous nighttime skydive because Cooper’s caper, like a crime science experiment, was replicated with complete success by a copycat aerial clip artist just months later. That hijacker hit the ground safely, although the mimic ultimately paid dearly.
In January 2004 Lyle Christiansen contacts the detectives at Sherlock Investigations, a P.I. agency on the Upper West Side, claiming his brother, Kenny, is “without a doubt” Cooper. 2007 New York presented the new suspect in the case, Kenneth Christiansen, a deceased Northwest purser and ex-paratrooper.
The resemblance of Christiansen to a composite sketch of Cooper was “uncanny,” according to Larry Carr, a federal agent in Seattle now spearheading the Cooper case. “It was the piece that pushed it over the edge,” he says. Carr’s hope is that “a relative out there might think, ‘Boy, Uncle John was a lot like that and he disappeared around that time.’” Carr says that the prevalent view inside the bureau is that Cooper died the night of the jump. “Conditions were too poor,” he says. And Carr suspects that, contrary to popular belief, Cooper was not a professional skydiver.
As for Christiansen, the agent was troubled by certain physical characteristics that didn’t exactly match eyewitness accounts, like height and eye color. But he is not ruling out any suspect until “we get a new starting point in the case he added.
The prime suspect, Kenneth Christiansen, was trained by the Army to jump with 90 pounds of equipment strapped to his body. Twenty-one pounds of cash would have been easy for him. Also, many skydivers acknowledge that an experienced paratrooper or skydiver would know what to expect on a jump like that, and could easily survive it. The truth is, that the FBI hasn’t a clue who D.B. Cooper was, so they like to say that he died when he parachuted from that plane. That was however not the case, i believe.