A Hijacker Parachutes Into Thunderstorm With $200,000 - 11/24/1971

US History |


Today in 1971, a hijacker who was known as D.B. Cooper jumps from a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 into an uncontrolled storm over Washington State. With him was a total amount of $200,000, which was paid to him as ransom for the lives of other passengers onboard the plane.

According to a report, Cooper, whose identity remains a mystery until this day, bought a one-way ticket to Seattle. He dressed in a business suit with a white shirt and black tie. He looked calm and gentle as the flight took off.

Some hours after takeoff, Cooper seized the plane while revealing to one of the flight attendants what looked like a bomb in a briefcase he was carrying. He then demanded for a whooping sum of $200,000, four parachutes, and “no joke.” Left with no choice, the plane had to make an emergency landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where authorities agreed to meet all his demands in exchange for the passengers, which he agreed to. Afterwards, he then ordered the remaining crew members into the cockpit of the plane before requesting that the plane be flown towards Mexico City at a low altitude.

Later in the evening at exactly 8:13, as the plane flew over the Lewis River in southwest Washington, indication from the plane's pressure gauge shows that Cooper jumped out of the plane. Cooper strapped the money to his suit jacket, put on sunglasses, a raincoat, and then parachuted away into the heavy thunderstorm with winds in excess of 100 mph and temperatures below zero at the 10,000-foot altitude where he made the jump from. Unfortunately, a heavy rainstorm made attempt to capture the culprit impossible, and most authorities believed he must have died during his suicidal jump from the plane. After years of extensive search, evidences and tips to identify Cooper, authorities could not find his whereabouts or match his identity.

Nine years later, an eight-year-old boy discovered a pile of cash up to $5,880 in $20 bills that matched the serial numbers of money paid to Cooper along the north bank of the Columbia River, five miles from Vancouver, Washington. Later, pieces of parachute, the black tie Cooper was wearing before jumping out of the plane were found. However, who D.B. Cooper is or was remains an unsolved mystery.  

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