24 Nov

Today, Thanksgiving day 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the most puzzling skyjacking crime of the century.

It was a crime that spawned a Northwest icon and a legend in the name “D.B. Cooper.”

In 1971 a skyjacker named Dan Cooper, later called D.B. Cooper by the media, boarded Northwest Airlines flight #305 in Portland bound for Seattle, and parachuted into the frigid, dark stormy winter night over southwest Washington State with $200,000 cash in ransom money. He was never heard from again.

Cooper was wearing a black suit and clip on tie for his daring escapade and was described as an executive type. While in the air, he opened his brief case showing a bomb to the flight attendant and hijacked the plane.

The jet landed in Seattle where he demanded $200,000 in cash, four parachutes and food for the crew before releasing all the passengers.

With three pilots and one flight attendant left on board, they took off from Seattle with the marked bills heading south while it was dark and raining.

In the 45 minutes after takeoff, Cooper sent the flight attendant to the cockpit while putting on a parachute, tied the bank bag full of twenty dollar bills to himself, lowered the rear stairs and somewhere north of Portland jumped into the night.

When the plane landed with the stairs down, they found the two remaining parachutes and on the seat Cooper was sitting in, his black clip on tie.



And now some volunteer scientist sleuths have done high tech CSI stuff on that tie using an electron microscope and they found something interesting; something you cannot see with a naked eye.

They found a tiny microscopic piece of pure titanium metal – not processed like the kind used in aircraft manufacture and other manufacturing today, but pure stuff.

This piece would have been very rare indeed in 1971.

How did it get on the tie? Well, it could have been that Cooper, or whoever owned that tie and perhaps lent it to him, might have been employed at a titanium production or fabrication facility or a even chemical plant.

Turns out that chemical plants used titanium mixed with aluminum to stop corrosion. And the scientist-sleuths say aluminum particles were also found on Cooper’s tie.

If it was Cooper’s tie and he was the one who was responsible for getting that tiny piece of titanium on it, it’s possible he was an engineer or manager of some facility (perhaps not a Boeing employee but maybe an employee of a subcontractor) who went out on the shop floor from time to time.

Otherwise, why wear a clip on tie to skyjack a jet if you’re not accustomed to putting one on every day? For Cooper, putting on that tie may have been part of a ritual he did every day for his job.

And if Cooper were a subcontractor employee who worked around pure titanium, why would he skyjack a jet for ransom money?

The sleuths say that in 1971 there was a shakeup in the titanium industry with the canceling of the Boeing SST (Supersonic Transport) project, which ended up with a lot of people in the industry losing their jobs.

Boeing cancelled its Super Sonic Transport project – one of the first civilian planes to use titanium – just a few months before the 1971 hijacking.

So could Cooper have been an angry man who’s life had been turned upside down by a layoff and was he angry at Boeing and or the airline industry as a whole because of it?

Hard to say since no one really knows much of anything about the mysterious Cooper.

But that titanium piece could be a real lead.

Then again, Cooper could have bought that tie used at a Goodwill store sometime before the skyjacking – to make himself appear to the crew as an “executive type” – and whoever was the original owner may be the one responsible for getting that piece of titanium on it.

The team also found other unexplained particles of material on Cooper’s tie and they have asked anyone who knows what they might be to contact the team.

You can find pictures of all the particles they found on Cooper’s tie and other details on the crime and the investigation here www.citizensleuths.com


Editor’s Note: In August of this year the FBI said that DNA testing done at the FBI’s lab failed to prove a link to a new suspect in the D.B. Cooper skyjacking via the necktie that Cooper left behind on the Boeing jet in 1971.

However Special Agent Fred Gutt also said the test does not necessarily rule out the dead man because investigators simply cannot know for sure whether the DNA on the tie is that of the hijacker because there are three different DNA samples on the necktie and it’s not clear where the hijacker got the tie.

It could have been a borrowed tie or a used tie obtained by the skyjacker.

Lab investigators compared the DNA found on the tie to the DNA of someone in the new suspect’s family.

The new suspect is a dead relative of a woman in Oklahoma who recently came forward to say she believes her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, was the hijacker based on comments her parents made and upon observations she made of her uncle and another relative when she was 8 years old at the time of the skyjacking.

See that complete story here

Earlier the FBI found inconclusive tests of fingerprints that were found on a guitar strap that belonged to the dead man.

The agency is working with the family to come up with other items that could be tested further for fingerprints.



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