The infamous skyjacker D.B. Cooper case is making headlines once again. This year the FBI was notified about the discovery of nearly three dozen D.B. Cooper serial numbers from stolen banknotes. Now the FBI has a possible D.B. Cooper torn and tangled parachute that was found buried by children in southwest Washington.
Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 flight from Portland to Seattle in 1971. During the flight to Seattle, Cooper said he had a bomb and demanded $200,000 and parachutes. When the plane landed, he released the passengers in exchange for the money and ordered the pilot to Mexico. While in flight, he jumped from the rear stairway.
The drama of the 36-year-old mystery continues. The discovery of the parachute could finally settle the fate of Cooper — did he die from his 10,000 foot jump out of the 727 or survive with the $200,000 worth of $20’s strapped to his body.
The 727 Cooper jumped from was flying at a speed of nearly 200 mph. His odds of surviving were given as low considering the complexity of the jump and the fact that it happened at night and during stormy weather with a wind chill well below zero.
A FBI statement by Special Agent Carr summed it up:
“We originally thought Cooper was an experienced jumper, perhaps even a paratrooper. We concluded after a few years this was simply not true. No experienced parachutist would have jumped in the pitch-black night, in the rain, with a 200-mile-an-hour wind in his face, wearing loafers and a trench coat. It was simply too risky. He also missed that his reserve chute was only for training and had been sewn shut—something a skilled skydiver would have checked.”
Cooper was never found. Neither was the money with the exception of $5,800 in decomposed $20 notes discovered by Brian Ingram in 1980. Mr. Ingram was a then eight year old boy enjoying a family outing by the Columbia River, near Vancouver, Washington.
But was it really $5,800 or was it more that Brian found as a boy? In February of this year, a new examination of the fragmented and pieced together ransom money was conducted by PCGS Currency. It turned up 35 additional full serial numbers that are on the FBI’s 1971 complete list of notes given as ransom. That information was turned over to FBI Special Agent Larry Carr — the lead agent now investigating the parachute find.
And in a further twist of mystery, the location of those notes and that of the parachute, should it be confirmed as the one Cooper used, are at odds with each other.
In a seattlepi.com report, Possible D.B. Cooper chute investigated, Agent Larry Carr said that if Cooper landed where the parachute was found, it would be impossible for the ransom money to end up where it did by natural means.
The intrigue continues …
D.B. Cooper Notes for auction
Fifteen of the $20 Federal Reserve Notes found by Brian Ingram in 1980 will be offered to the public for the first time in June by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas. In the Heritage release announcing the D.B. Cooper notes up for auction, Mr. Ingram said the money almost didn’t survive its discovery.
“We were going to make a fire along the river bank,” Ingram recalled. “I was on my hands and knees smoothing out the sand with my arm, and I uncovered three bundles of money just below the surface. My uncle thought we should throw it in the fire.”
Read the above linked release for more.
AP video of parachute find and events
For another perspective, including video of the parachute, watch the following embedded AP video, Parachute May Be Long-Vanished Hijacker’s.
Help the FBI
The FBI is hoping to talk to anyone who has expert knowledge about the NB6 series of parachutes, or more information about this case. Agent Larry Carr can be contacted through the bureau Web site: seattle.fbi.gov.
Additional information regarding the case may be read and seen on the FBI page, D.B. COOPER REDUX, Help Us Solve the Enduring Mystery.