D.B. Cooper ー The mysterious man who hijacked a plane for $200,000, and four parachutes

D.B. Cooper ー The mysterious man who hijacked a plane for $200,000, and four parachutes

The mysterious man who hijacked a passenger plane between Portland and Seattle traded the lives of passengers for $200,000, and four parachutes leaped from the jet over somewhere between Seattle and Reno and were never seen again.

Almost 50 years later, the case continues to confuse the FBI and inspire wild speculation as it remains the only unsolved aircraft to be hijacked in the history of the United States.

On the afternoon of 24 November 1971, a man wearing a black raincoat over a dark suit and a clip-on necktie entered Portland International Airport, Oregon, USA. Carrying a black briefcase, he approached the Northwest Orient Airlines counter and asked for a one-way ticket to Flight 305 bound for Seattle, Washington.

Cooper paid the $20 fee in cash and boarded Flight 305. He ordered a drink—bourbon and soda—while the flight was waiting to depart. 

Shortly after the take-off, Cooper handed a cash tip along with a note to flight attendant Florence Schaffner; believing that the note contains nothing more than a pick-up line and a telephone number, Schaffner ignored it. That was until Cooper stopped her and whispered, "Miss, you'd better look at that note. I have a bomb." 

The note was printed in a neat, all-capital letter with a felt-tip pen. Its exact wording is unknown because Cooper later reclaimed it.

But from what Schaffner later recalled, note declared that Cooper had a bomb in his briefcase, and he wanted her to sit with him. When she did, cooper calmly opened his briefcase, revealing a glimpse of a mass of wires and red-colored sticks, and demanded that she write down what he told her. Soon, she was walking a new note to the captain of the plane.

Cooper dictated his demands: $200,000 in "negotiable American currency;" four parachutes (two primary and two reserves); delivered to him on the Seattle tarmac, where the aircraft was also to be refueled. At that point, the passengers would be set free, but the crew would remain on board.

The officers accepted Cooper's requests and, when the flight landed in Seattle, the hijacker exchanged money and parachutes for 36 passengers on the flight. Cooper kept a few crew members, and, after the second take-off, Cooper had closed all the flight attendants to the cockpit and had disappeared somewhere between Seattle and Reno.

A little after 8:00 p.m., he jumped out of the back of the plane with a parachute and ransom money. The pilots landed safely, but Cooper had vanished into the night, and his ultimate fate remains a mystery to this day.

It remains one of the biggest mysteries in the United States, a startling crime that captured the American imagination, inspiring songs, movies, TV shows, and books.

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