And the Hijacked Plane
While flying from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington on November 24, 1971, a man going by the name D.B. Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 by claiming he had a bomb in his briefcase.
Upon landing in Seattle, he demanded $200,000, four parachutes, a refuel of the plane and permission to take off again. When the FBI agreed, D.B. Cooper allowed everyone on board to disembark, except the two pilots, the flight engineer and one flight attendant.
After takeoff from Seattle, Cooper instructed the pilots to fly south at a low altitude. He sent the flight attendant into the cockpit with the order to stay there. Soon thereafter, a warning light and sudden turbulence alerted the pilots the aft stairway had been opened.
It wasn’t until they landed in Reno, Nevada to refuel that anyone realized D.B. Cooper was gone, along with the money and two of the four parachutes. One of the parachutes left on board had been unfurled and its lines cut.
D.B. Cooper was never found, nor was his true identity ever discovered. It remained an open case until July 12, 2016 when the FBI ended their forty-five-year investigation, conceding the mystery was unsolvable.
In the end, this enigmatic man had pulled off the only successful plane hijacking (where no one on board died and the hijacker escaped) in U.S. aeronautic history.
If you’d like to walk inside an actual Boeing 727, you can do so at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, like I did last year. But beware, the plane looks like it’s mostly suspended from the ceiling. Yikes!
D.B. Cooper Links
For the DB Cooper article from the FBI website, click here.
For another FBI article about the DB Cooper hijacking, click here.
For the FBI Press Release about the closing of the case in July 12, 2016, click here.
Boeing 727 Links
The Chicago Museum website, click here.
Some more information from the Chicago Museum about the Boeing 727, click here.
For a more in depth look on whether the back staircase of a Boeing 727 can be opened during flight, click here.