It was a pleasant afternoon at Portland International Airport on November 24, 1971. Northwest Airlines Flight #305 was ready to depart for Seattle. It was a Boeing 727 plane. The last passenger to board the plane was a gentleman by the name of D.B. Cooper. He looked like a business executive with his suit and tie. Before entering the aircraft, he asked an airline employee if this was a Boeing 727. The airline employee said in the affirmative.
While in the air, Cooper gave a handwritten note to the flight attendant. The note said he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded $200,000 (today’s value $1.3 million) in 20 dollar bills and 4 parachutes. The flight attendant informed the pilot. The pilot informed the tower and they informed the FBI.
The plane landed in Seattle and came to a halt in the middle of the runway. D.B. Cooper said passengers will be allowed to leave the plane only after he gets his money and parachutes.
The FBI consulted with the airline. The airline thought the passengers are more important than the money and therefore agreed to give the $200,000 and 4 parachutes to D.B Cooper. They were delivered inside the plane and then D.B. Cooper let the passengers leave the plane.
Now there were three pilots and one flight attendant still on the plane with Cooper. The plane then took off from the runway. Cooper ordered the plane to go to Mexico City. The pilot said the plane cannot fly nonstop to Mexico City and has to refuel in Reno, Nevada. Cooper agreed. He told the pilots to go at a maximum speed of 200 miles per hour and only fly below the 10,000 feet altitude. He also ordered that the cabin should not be pressurized.
20 minutes after takeoff, Cooper sent the flight attendant to the cockpit and ordered her not to come outside. Cooper then donned the parachute, tied the money onto himself, went to the rear of the plane, opened the rear stairwell, and jumped.
When the plane landed in Reno, Nevada, there was no Cooper on the plane. No money on the plane. He was never captured. Almost 50 years later, it’s still a mystery as to what happened to D.B. Cooper. The only skyjacking that was never solved.
Side bar: I mentioned above, while boarding the plane Cooper asked an airline employee if the plane was a Boeing 727. According to experts, the 727 is the only passenger plane that can be used to parachute out safely. Looks like Cooper did his homework.
PS: He was a classy guy too. Before taking off with the money and parachutes from Seattle airport, he ordered food for the 3 pilots and the flight attendant and made sure they ate their dinner.