Thanksgiving Eve, November 24, 1971. “Dan Cooper” (aka D.B. Cooper) boards Northwest Orient Airline Flight 305 in Portland, Oregon for what is normally a 30-minute hop to Seattle.
But this is not a normal flight. After ordering a bourbon and Seven, he hands an envelope to stewardess Florence Schaffner.
As the world now knows, the hijacking note inside that envelope triggered one of the most extensive manhunts and enduring mysteries of our time. Who was D.B. Cooper? What happened to him?
Now you can delve into the mystery a little deeper at the Washington State History Museum’s new COOPER Exhibit in Tacoma, WA. Curators Gwen Perkins and Fred Poyner spent two years planning and gathering artifacts for the program.
The result is a highly entertaining, interactive exhibit that takes visitors back to the 70’s where you can relive the dramatic play of events.
Check in for your flight on the 4th floor and proceed to Gate 1, 2 or 3. Enter a mock up of the Boeing 727 cabin where mannequin D.B. Cooper sits in the back row, his briefcase nearby. Listen to the pilots’ conversation with air traffic control as you look out over the landscape below.
After showing Flo the bomb in his briefcase, the hijacker listed his demands: two front parachutes, two back parachutes, $200,000. in a knapsack, food for the crew, and a refueling truck on the tarmac in Seattle. All this in exchange for the safety of the passengers and crew. A pair of sunglasses shielded his eyes for the duration of the flight.
Later, somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, he lowered and descended the aft stairs. With briefcase in hand and the knapsack tied about him, D.B. Cooper jumped from the Boeing 727 into legend.
Theories abound, but to date, the D.B. Cooper heist remains America’s only unsolved skyjacking crime. For many, his derring-do escape epitomizes the perfect getaway. No one got hurt, the hijacker remained cool, soft-spoken and well-mannered – and he dressed well in a dark suit, with white shirt and black tie, and a trench coat.
For your own weekend escape, Tacoma’s Hotel Murano is offering a “Getaway with COOPER” package in conjunction with the exhibit.
The exhibition opened August 24, 2013 and runs through January 5, 2014.
For the full COOPER experience and an optional add-on fee, you can also book a simulated skydiving experience at iFly Indoor Skydiving, about 30- minutes from the hotel. At the exhibit you can try lifting the model 35-pound knapsack like the hijacker would have tied to himself before jumping. Then imagine skydiving with that extra weight. Do you think he could have lived to tell his tale? You be the judge . . .
Many thanks to my hosts for the opportunity to experience the “Getaway with COOPER” package. Partial expenses were covered for the purpose of sharing the experience with my readers.
What do you think happened to D.B. Cooper, wanderboomers? Share your best guess with us here.