D.B. Cooper, a 727, And $200,000: The Greatest Unsolved Mystery Of The '70s

CULTURE | May 14, 2023

Day one of a long weekend

Source: Wikimedia Commons

On the afternoon of November 24, 1971, a normal looking middle-aged man carrying a briefcase boarded Flight 305 out of Portland. He was taking a Boeing 727 bound for Seattle, it's a 30 minute flight but long enough to pull off some serious crime. Cooper wore a business suit with a white shirt and black tie. He ordered bourbon and soda while he waited for the plane to take off.

Once the plane departed at 2:50 PM he passed a note to Florence Schaffner, a flight attendant who thought this solo passenger was hitting on her. She didn't even read the note, but when Cooper said, "Miss, you'd better look at that note. I have a bomb," everything changed.

Cooper opened his briefcase and showed Schaffner eight red cylinders and a large battery. Once he was sure his message was understood Cooper said that he wanted $200,000, four parachutes (two to use in his escape and two for backup), and a fuel truck ready to fill the plane when it arrived in Seattle.

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Jacob Shelton


Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.