He’s probably the most famous hijacker there ever was, and he did his deed practically over our heads on Nov. 24, 1971 – we’re speaking of course about Dan “D.B.” Cooper, who hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 just prior to landing at Sea-Tac Airport, got his ransom of $200,000 cash, then parachuted out the back of the 727 during the flight, never to be seen again.
Cooper’s skyjacking remains the only unsolved one in the history of the U.S.
And now, nearly 39 years later, his caper is the basis for a Highline Historical Society exhibit at SeaTac City Hall (located at 4800 South 188th Street), where you can “re-discover the particulars of D.B. Cooper’s clever airborne crime and daredevil getaway (which) have been pondered, picked over and recapitulated for decades now.”
According to the FBI:
On November 24, 1971, an unknown subject, also known as Dan Cooper, purchased a one-way ticket on Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305. The flight was carrying 36 passengers and crew. The flight originated in Portland, Oregon with the final destination of Seattle, Washington.
The plane was hijacked just prior to its arrival in Seattle. In Seattle, the hijacker allowed the passengers and two stewardesses to depart the plane. Northwest Orient Airlines paid the hijacker $200,000.
The plane departed Seattle for Reno, Nevada. It is believed the hijacker parachuted from the plane during this flight. Authorities and personnel from Fort Lewis, Washington searched for Mr. Cooper but he was never found.
In 1980, an 8-year-old boy found $5,800 on the bank of the Columbia River. This is the only money ever recovered from the ransom.
Some more info:
- Cooper dove into a freezing rainstorm at an altitude around 10,000 feet, wearing only his business suit and loafers.
- The temperature was apparently -7 below zero, not counting a windchill factor estimated at minus 70 because of the plane’s speed of 200 mph.
- He parachuted into dense forest at night, at the onset of winter, with no food or survival gear.
Oh, and next time you’re upset at having to go through security at the airport? Blame Cooper, as passenger screening didn’t start until after his stunt.
You can view the exhibit during regular business hours (9am – 5pm) at SeaTac City Hall through the end of November.
And who knows? Maybe the real D.B. will check it out?