D.B. Cooper mystery may be solved
Scripps Howard News Service
In the unsettled years of the í70s, D.B. Cooper was a hero to some and a mystery to all. No one from that era seems to have known him but none have forgotten him.
On Nov. 24, 1971, D.B. Cooper, a man in his 40s, dressed in a dark suit and tie, boarded a Northwest Orient flight out of Portland, ordered a bourbon and water, lit a cigarette and presented the stewardess with a skyjacking note. He had a bomb in his briefcase, it said.
In accordance with his instructions, the flight diverted to Seattle where the passengers were exchanged for $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. Somewhere west of Portland, over the lower Cascades, Cooper lowered the aft stairway, directly under the tail on that jetliner, and jumped.
And that, nearly 40 years later, is all that is known about Cooper ó until now.
The FBI has come into possession of a clue, described as ěexciting.î ěItís the most promising lead we have right now,î said an FBI spokeswoman, and having looked it over, ěit seems pretty interesting.î
The clue, whatever it is, is now at the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., where the bureau is believed to have Cooperís fingerprints and DNA from the flight.
Cooper has provided endless hours of speculation on his fate. Some believe he could not have survived a 10,000-foot jump on a freezing night wearing only a business suit and is now mulch along the Columbia River. Some believed he survived and headed off to warmer climes. At least some of the money did survive. Children playing on a sandbar discovered a pack of the ransom money in 1980.
Opinion is divided over whether Cooper, who would now be in his 80s if he did indeed survive, is a Robin Hood or a simple thief. Either way there is a sneaking admiration for his daring.
Dona Elliott, proprietor of the Tavern in tiny Ariel, Ore., the town closest to his probable landing site, offered this explanation to Alex Hannaford of The Daily Telegraph, the reporter most closely following the story:
ěBecause the government is always screwing us over and finally someone got ëem back.î That explanation would fit, maybe not in the ë70s, but certainly in this day and age.