Perpetrator of the world's only unsolved skyjacking
, and an American folk
On November 24, 1971 (the day before Thanksgiving), a man under the pseudonym of Dan Cooper (a reporter botched his name as 'D.B.' in his story) boarded Northwest Airlines' Flight 305 from Portland to Seattle. As the plane taxied down the runway, the man in Seat 18C handed a stewardess a note, claiming he had a bomb and that he would blow up the plane if he was not given $200,000 and four parachutes when the plane landed.
Upon landing at SEATAC Airport and receiving his demands, Cooper released all 36 passengers, two members of the flight crew, and ordered the remaining crew to fly to Mexico. At 10,000 feet and 80 knots, Cooper walked down the rear stairs of the plane and disappeared forever.
For five months a manhunt raged through the forests north of Portland, but to this day, Cooper has never been located, and only $5,800 dollars has been found, and not by any law enforcement officials, but rather by a boy digging a fire pit in the area in 1979.
The man most likely to be D.B. Cooper? A Florida antique dealer named Duane Weber. On his death bed in 1995 he told his wife he was Dan Cooper. His wife had no idea what he was talking about - she was his sixth wife and was told not to pry into his past. The evidence for Duane Weber being D.B. Cooper is startling:
- Cooper's composite sketch looks very similar to photographs of Weber from the same time period, and his profile at the time of the hijacking matches Cooper's almost exactly: mid-40's, six feet tall, 170 pounds, black hair, bourbon drinker, chain smoker
- His wife found a white bank bag in his van in 1990. The ransom money was paid to Cooper in a white canvas bank bag.
- Four months before the boy found the $5,800, the Webers stopped in the same area, and Duane walked to the river alone.
- Authorities feel that whoever Cooper is must have both a criminal record and military training. Weber had both.
- There are many that feel that anyone who tried to pull a stunt like this is either crazy or suicidal. Weber might have been both. He'd been undergoing a series of personal problems, including separation from his fifth wife. In addition, he had recently been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disorder, and was not expected to live more than three years.
Despite all of this evidence, the FBI
dropped its posthumous investigation of Weber because too much of the evidence was circumstantial
. Meanwhile, D.B. Cooper has become the subject of books, songs, and a 1981 comedy starring Robert Duvall
. It remains one of the great unsolved mysteries
of the last century.