Wednesday, July 13, 2016

D. B Cooper (aka Dan Cooper) and History

History has done it again. Sucked me into another of their documentaries, this one just two parts dealing with the Dan Cooper (which everyone calls D. B. Cooper following the lead of one of the news organizations that got his name wrong so long ago) who hijacked an airplane back in 1971 or some 45 years ago. After all this
Dan Cooper then and Dan Cooper now.
time, after millions spent on official investigations and searches, History tell us “Case Closed?”

Spoilers Ahead, if anyone actually cares.

The show followed a group of old guys, which means they were basically retired, as they reopened the case. There were investigative journalists, a retired FBI guy, someone who knew how to access the military records in St. Louis, and a couple of others thrown in for good measure whose role I don’t remember and don’t care about.

I will confess here that after I discovered they were going to drag this out for four hours, less commercials (and other ancillary nonsense that cut the programming down to just under three hours) I was tempted to give up. I had noticed the question mark in the title, but I thought just this once we were going to get an answer.

There were some interesting discussions about how someone outside the aviation industry would know that the rear ramp in the Boeing 727 in 1971 could be lowered in flight. There were some interesting discussions about the dynamics of leaving a jetliner while in the air and whether such a jump would be survivable (which it is because it turns out others have done it) and there were some
Boeing 727 with rear ramp down.
interesting discussions about the skill set necessary to pull this off in 1971 before anyone had actually done it.

They did settle on a suspect, one who had been questioned by the FBI back in 1971, who apparently looked something like the composite sketch made at the time. The expert in military records retrieved said records from St. Louis. I picked up on two points. First he had apparently gone through the Warrant Officer Flight Program and successfully competed it. He served a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and received two Distinguished Flying Crosses (DFC). The man who checked the record was impressed with this because he said something about never having seen that before.

I seemed to remember someone having received the award something like seven times, so I googled this. I saw a citation for Bryan Compton, Jr. who was awarded a Silver Star in lieu of the sixth award of the DFC. I could go on but that pretty well shot down this idea that having been awarded two was something so rare and strange… The Air Force, during Vietnam, handed them out after so many missions (all we in the Army ever got was another Air Medal).

These guys did go talk to the FBI agent currently in charge of the case, presented their evidence naming this guy, but the FBI wasn’t overly impressed. They also talked to one of the flight attendants, Tina Mucklow and the co-pilot, William Rataczak who apparently haven’t talked to anyone about this in decades. There was a big build up to this and these old guys listened as the flight attendant and the co-pilot talked about what they remembered after 45 years, showed them the picture of the man they thought might be Cooper, played a videotape, and the flight attendant, who had spent some four or five hours close Cooper before he bailed, said she didn’t think their guy was Cooper.

I’m not sure how valuable that was, given the time that had elapsed, but the important point is that the one person in the world who was with Cooper the longest on the airplane, said, “No.”

Then we learn the FBI is busy packing up all the evidence, interviews and records to ship from their office in Seattle to Washington, D.C. because they have basically closed the case. They don’t believe that it will be solved after all this time. If I understood it correctly, it is sort of a still active case in the sense that it wasn’t solved, but there will be no more resources expended on it unless some startling new evidence is found… which seems unlikely.

One other thing, apparently none of the money was ever found, except for something like five grand found twenty miles from the flight path. A few thought the money was planted there sometime after the fact to throw off the search… the rest has never seen the light of day because the FBI has all the serial numbers.

And no remains of Cooper, or his parachute or any other tangible evidence has been found and while the area is remote, it’s not like it’s at the head waters of the Amazon or in the middle of Africa. Had Cooper failed which means had he cratered (died in the attempt) they believe something would have been found by now.

So, I was sucked into another of these programs that is going to offer a solution to a mystery and then doesn’t deliver on that promise. They just follow some guys around, listen to them talk about their theories and in the end we really don’t know more than we knew before the show began. It’s almost enough to make me block History on my cable box so that I don’t inadvertently get dragged into wasting more time watching people not solve anything… almost.

PS: If I have managed to get some of you to talk about Dan Cooper instead of D.B. Cooper, then it might have been worth it… though ABC News on July 12 referred to him as D.B. Cooper… makes you wonder about the quality of their other “news.” And, yes, I saw CNN’s story on the FBI closing the case on D.B. Cooper, but I haven’t worried about the quality of their news for a long time.

PS Squared: This was sort of inspired by a note at Rich Reynolds’ UFO Conjectures found here: which referenced a commentary at Nick Redfern’s Mysterious Universe discussing UFO obsessions which is found here:


Craig McDaniel said...

I watched the show about DB Cooper this week. I didn't think there was enough evidence to bring to a grand jury let alone a trial.

TheDimov said...

Yes, some of these mysteries with no closure have driven me nuts, the Cooper doco's, Valentich UFO case, Curse of Oak Island, Roswell, the Ark of the Covenant apparently residing in Axum.. and they're just a few.. these all have taken up way too much brain time. If you want one though that in my opinion actually could solve an enduring mystery, if you haven't already, take a look at Alcatraz Search For The Truth on YouTube. I thought no way... no damn way could this one be solved but I think in this instance it may well have been the case.. those crooks may indeed have gotten away.

Brian Bell said...

Well it wouldn't be worth the effort in stealing the money unless he planned to spend it.

If the FBI has the currency numbers, he must have laundered the money so it came out clean. If none of the bills have been found in US circulation then he must have deposited it in a foreign bank (multiple banks) and purchased bank notes or transferred it after depositing it.

Somewhere those bills exist in a US or foreign bank. Given that paper currency is also destroyed when out of date and replaced with newer bills, it's possible the bills were destroyed by now.

The $200 K he took was worth about $1 million back then. I suspect he laundered the money and transferred it into other assets, or possibly even left the country (which could be traceable).