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Mar-26-2008 14:24printcomments

Parachute Found by Kids in Washington Could be D.B. Cooper's (VIDEO)

It is a mystery that captivates people and perhaps the discovery of this parachute will bring us answers.

Photo of flight crew on D.B. Coopers infamous flight
Photo of flight crew on D.B. Cooper's infamous flight
Courtesy: YouTube

(SEATTLE) - The FBI is investigating a parachute found by some kids near Amboy, Washington that may be from the country's most famous hijacker, the extremely elusive D.B. Cooper. He escaped into the thin air at 10,000 feet with a parachute in November '71 over the Oregon/Washington border with $200,000 and has not been seen since.

The man using the name Dan Cooper checked into the Portland, Oregon airport and hijacked a Northwest Orient flight that was heading to Seattle that November evening in 1971. He told the flight crew that he had a bomb.

I have always believed that D.B. Cooper could have been a veteran, especially considering when this happened. The country had been at war in Vietnam for several years at the time of the hijacking.

One of the problems with that theory is that parachuting was not a huge aspect of the Vietnam War, other than in the case of fighter and attack plane pilots.

And on that note, Washington is no stranger to military air traffic. Over the years a number of planes from Whidbey Island have gone down in NW forests. Most have been located but not all. Even when they are, a used parachute is not always going to be recovered.

On the night of the incident, the man using the name Dan Cooper hijacked the plane after leaving Portland and had the crew fly to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. At that point the passengers aboard the plane were released in exchange for $200,000. Cooper then told the crew he wanted them to fly him to Mexico.

Cooper asked the crew to fly with the plane's back stairs and exit open, and they complied. An FBI agent said that when the plane finally landed the stairs were shredded by the wind and turbulence, but the aircraft did make a safe landing.

However, somewhere over the Oregon/Washington border, D.B. Cooper had gone out the exit, and the crew was never really sure exactly where they were when he went out, but they had a good idea. The location of the recently discovered parachute is about 100 miles south of Seattle.

Historically, federal agents doubt Cooper survived because atmospheric conditions were poor and the terrain was mountainous and rough. Cooper would have exited the plane at approximately 196 MPH, at 10,000 feet.

But military jet pilots eject at higher speeds than that, and parachutists and sky divers today typically exit the plane at over 100 MPH. Some motorcycles purchased off the showroom floor today will accelerate to nearly 200 MPH, it is not a speed our bodies can not necessarily handle.

An investigator with the FBI says the parachute was found in an agricultural field by some kids, it appeared to have been buried.

The parachute Cooper used in 1971 was white, so is the one that the Washington kids found. The FBI agent believes it probably is Cooper's 'chute, or it is a strong coincidence. The Associated Press reports that the farm field is in Cooper's most probable landing zone, between Green and Bald mountains near Amboy.

One thing that makes the probability of this being D.B. Cooper slightly less, is the fact that $5,800 was recovered on a river bank and that money was confirmed as being from Cooper's hijacking. Why would anyone leave behind $5,800? It suggests that possibly D.B. Cooper did meet a fatal end that night, and that his stolen money was never placed back in circulation.

It is a mystery that captivates people and perhaps the discovery of this parachute will bring us answers, perhaps not.


Here is a current clip from King 5 News in Seattle:

Here is the CBS Evening News from November 25th, 1971 with Walter Cronkite, talking about the hijacking and a man who went by the name D.B. Cooper, courtesy of YouTube.

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