The story of America’s only ever unsolved hijacking

On the afternoon of November 24th, 1971, a man under the name of Dan Cooper hijacked a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727 flying between Portland and Seattle. The Hijacking today remains the only unsolved hijacking in American history, hundreds if not thousands of people came forward claiming to know the real Dan Cooper, but was one of them ever, right? Join me as I take a look into the story of Northwest Airlines flight 305.

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Northwest airlines flight 305 was a Boeing 727, which departed at approximately 2:50 P.M. (PST) on the afternoon of November 24th, 1971. The flight was said to be around one-third full and contained a man traveling under the name of Dan Cooper, or D.B Cooper, who would later be identified as a hijacker. Just before takeoff, Dan was said to hand a member of the crew a note saying they were being hijacked. He then reportedly showed the crew member an explosive device, which he threatened to use if he wasn’t given his demands. His demands were 200,000 dollars and 4 parachutes. Unfortunately, the pilots didn’t get the message in time and so did not have time to abort the takeoff.

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D B Cooper's Jump
Credit: check-six.com

As quick as the command came, word got to the pilots and they flew back to their departure airport. No passengers were notified of the hijacking. The hijacker, soon after they had landed, decided to let all passengers go but the crew was made to stay on board. It was only as they were leaving that the passengers realized that they had been hijacked. The FBI was on the case and the demands were delivered, not long before the plane took off into the night sky. It was in flight that Cooper’s demands looked more and more like he was going to jump. Then, a horrible noise echoes through the cabin as he lowered the back stairs and leaped into the air, never to be seen again…

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Since the incident, many people came forward claiming to know who Cooper was, his whereabouts, or who his relatives were. Saying things that ranged from “He revealed his identity on his deathbed” to “He was my uncle“. There are lots of photos of people next to the original composite sketch which was created soon after the hijack. Then, In 1972, a man called Richard McCoy Jr. hijacked a United Airlines flight, in a way that was extremely similar to Cooper’s. Many people speculate that he was the real D.B cooper in the first place and that he had lost the original money and needed more. He escaped, but police busted into his house and found the $500,000 in cash that he had stolen from the hijacking. McCoy was killed in a shootout with the FBI after escaping prison in 1974.

Credit: content.time.com
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Over the 50 years it has been since the original Hijacking, can we trust any of these claims? Even if one of the claims were true, the other hundreds of them would not be. What if D.B. Cooper had just died by messing up the parachute fall, therefore proving all of these accounts to be wrong? If there is one thing for sure, it is that this hijacking will go down in history as the time that America never found the culprit.

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Sources

  • Wikipedia
  • The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • radiowest.kuer.org (Cover image)
  • BBC (Documentary)
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Published by Sam Jakobi (Sam the avgeek)

I am a young Avgeek who has been interested in aviation since the age of around 3 or 4. I run a very small youtube channel in which I review flights and explain common things in the aviation industry.

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