Anyone who remembers the early 1970s will remember the epidemic of skyjackings. For a while, there were about 40 a year worldwide. Perhaps criminal defense attorneys look back with rose-colored glasses, or perhaps September 11 has made the skyjackers back then look less dangerous. No one slammed passenger jets into office towers.
One skyjacker passed into legend. For all we know, he is still at large — apparently the only skyjacker in American aviation history not to be apprehended. He is known, of course, as D.B. Cooper.
The FBI recently admitted that they have a new and promising lead in the case. This lead has “more credibility and detail” than any tip the FBI has received in recent years. This trail leads to a man who died a year ago.
FBI spokespeople will not reveal any details, but they do say that this new information doesn’t translate into the crime being solved any time soon. Even if it doesn’t crack the case wide open, one representative admitted it was the most promising lead the FBI has had in quite some time.
The tip came from someone in law enforcement in the Pacific Northwest — where the hijacking took place — and put investigators in touch with a credible person who had some information and an item with fingerprints on it. The FBI is analyzing the fingerprints now, comparing them to prints left by the hijacker on a magazine and part of the Boeing 727 he hijacked.
D.B. Cooper wasn’t flying far — just Portland to Seattle — when he slipped a flight attendant a note. He had a bomb, the note said. He wanted $200,000 and four parachutes. The plane landed, his demands were met, the passengers were released, and the plane took off again. Sometime after that, Cooper jumped.
Over the years, clues have turned up. Some of the ransom money was found in 1980. But Cooper’s fate remains unknown — the stuff of legend and dinner table debate.
Source: News & Observer, “D.B. Cooper trail leads to dead man,” Steve Miletich, Aug. 2, 2011