Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Unsolved Mysteries

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries

The name D. B. Cooper hasn't been prominent for a while, but when his parachute may have been found earlier this week, it didn't take long for the story of the world's only unsolved skyjacking to start making the rounds again.

The man originally gave his name as Dan Cooper back in 1971, but it was later incorrectly reported as D. B. I'm not sure this particularly matters since neither was likely his real name anyway, but you never know how someone feels about his alias. He was traveling alone on a short flight between Portland and Seattle when he passed a note to the flight attendant (or stewardess, as they were called back in the day). He claimed to have a bomb, and he was convincing enough that everyone on the plane believed him. The plane landed in Seattle, but Cooper was given $200,000 in cash and a few parachutes, and it took off again, ostensibly for Mexico. Not too long after the plane was in the air, Cooper took his money and jumped out the back. By all accounts, the jump would've been a harrowing one, and it's questionable whether or not Cooper would have even survived. But we don't know--and that's where the intrigue came in.

Cooper has been the subject of urban legends and lore. It didn't take long before he was considered some sort of modern-day Robin Hood, the fact that there was no proof he did anything with the money except spend it on himself notwithstanding. Treat Williams played him in a speculative movie, and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks was a sly reference, as well. There's been some speculation about who he might really have been, but the FBI hasn't seemed to pursue an active investigation in quite some time. New York magazine a few months ago had a nice, informative piece on potential new information. It has a good overview of the case, too, so it's worth a read even if the individual it identifies as Cooper has no connection to the case whatsoever (although the article seems to make a good argument). With the new publicity, there's apparently a man in Texas who also identified Cooper as his brother (who conveniently died 34 years ago).

Alas, the man who actually packed the chutes that were given to Cooper throws water on the new find. He's going to examine the evidence, but he's not optimistic.

"Unless they find the harness with the chute, I'm not sure it's the same one," Cossey said. "Why would he take the harness off the parachute if he's wanted with $200,000 in ransom money?

"I think they're barking up the wrong tree."

Of course, it's a valid question of whether we even want to know the truth. What would we do with all the legends if D. B. Cooper turned out to be an identifiable, boring, mundane person?


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