DB Cooper: What happened during infamous plane hijacking?

Hijacker who stole $200,000 in 1971 has never been identified despite FBI probe

Clémence Michallon
New York City
Monday 06 December 2021 23:13
<p>A sketch of the suspect on the FBI’s website</p>

A sketch of the suspect on the FBI’s website

It has been 50 years since a man known as DB Cooper hijacked a plane on a domestic flight in the US, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and disappeared forever.

The hijacking took place on 24 November 1971, when a man bought a ticket from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, using cash. He identified himself as Dan Cooper, which we now know was a pseudonym.

Once on board, Cooper handed a stewardess a note stating that he had a bomb. The hijacker then demanded $200,000 (which would amount to $1.3m nowadays) in $20.

On the plane were 32 passengers, three flight attendants – including Tina Mucklow, who shared her recollection of the hijacking in an interview with The Independent – and three pilots.

While people on the ground worked to assemble Cooper’s money, Mucklow and her coworkers worked to ensure the safety of the passengers.

The plane landed a first time in Seattle, where Mucklow was sent out to collect the money. Cooper agreed to release the passengers and two flight attendants, then the plane took off again with Mucklow, the three pilots, and the hijacker on board.

Cooper, equipped with a parachute, jumped out of the airplane and was never seen again. The aircraft then landed safely in Reno, Nevada.

Despite an investigation by the FBI, Cooper has never been identified or found. The biggest discovery in the case came in 1980, when a boy digging on a beach near the Columbia River found almost $6,000 in bank notes with serial numbers matching the cash given to Cooper on the day of the hijacking.

The FBI announced in 2016 that it has now “redirected resources allocated to the DB Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities”.

While the FBI has said it will no longer actively investigate the case, should anyone find Cooper’s parachutes or his cash, they are asked to get in touch with their local FBI field office.

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