He took a seat in the rear of the plane and lit a cigarette. He ordered a bourbon and soda and waited as the plane took off. Soon after takeoff, he handed a note to flight attendant Florence Schaffner.
The note demanded $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. He opened his briefcase and showed the flight attendant what she believed was a bomb. She gave his instructions to the cockpit and when she returned, the passenger was wearing dark sunglasses.
The FBI gathered the money in unmarked bills but made copies of each of them. The plane landed, the passengers disembarked, the money and parachutes were passed to the crew, and the refueled plane took off with only the hijacker and the crew aboard.
The hijacker had very specific instructions for takeoff, including demanding that the rear exit door remain open with the stairs extended. Twenty minutes after takeoff, he ordered all of the flight crew to lock themselves inside the cockpit.
At 8:11 p.m., the crew felt a sudden change in the pressure in the plane. Despite the fact that there were planes following the hijacked aircraft, no one witnessed his exit. The area where he might have landed was thoroughly searched and he was never seen again.
Did he get away with it? The FBI published the serial numbers multiple times, offering a reward for any information. The serial numbers never resurfaced...until 1980. That was when an eight-year-old boy discovered three bundles of the ransom cash on the Columbia River.
The discovery brought more questions than it answered. Had someone else discovered the ransom cash and buried it there? If D.B. Cooper survived the landing, why didn't he use the money? Did he escape to another country and exchange the American dollars for foreign currency, losing only part of the money?
⬅️ C Is for Combustion