There has been a lot of discussion over the last fifty years as to the true identity of D.B. Cooper. A notorious and infamous skyjacker who got away with $200,000 in 1971 by parachuting out of the back of an airliner. Everyone speculates whether or not he even survived and if he did, where did he go? But the big question has always been what is his real name?
So many names have been suggested over the decades since the heist that it is hard to keep track of them all. Some of the people have made more sense than others while some have been wild speculation. There have also been a number of people who have claimed to be D.B. Cooper but have no proof. I believe his real name to be Dan Cooper, just as it is on the plane ticket he bought for that flight.
He was described as being mid-forties, 5’10” to 6’, 170-180lbs and of average well-built stature. Some have said he had a darker complexion and others have said he wore makeup and his hair appeared dyed. The hair and coloring may have been altered to make him less easily identifiable. Once on the ground he may have washed his face and hair to return to his natural coloring.
One man claimed to be Cooper but was also a drug dealer who traveled up and down the coast. At one point he seemed to know where some of the money was and people found it along the river where he said it would be. This brings me to my theory.
After Cooper bailed out, he caught a ride with this man. Cooper got lucky with this man because with his operating outside the law, he could be bought and that is what Cooper did. He paid him for the ride and his silence with some of the money. The man gave him a ride to Mexico and got a great story.
Mexico is important because it goes against many theories that have him heading to Canada. It also explains his mention of American currency. Getting American dollars could confuse the authorities as to his destination. Many thought he may have stayed in the US while others have sought him in Canada. Canada would make sense as its close proximity to the Pacific Northwest, which is why Mexico would be a better choice.
Several suspects have come up in discussions and theories that were veterans of Vietnam. However, the description of mid-40s is a major clue. If someone is in their mid-40s in 1971, there is a higher likelihood that they served in World War II than Vietnam. Now we get to the meat of my theory.
Imagine a young man serving in World War II who becomes a paratrooper. He knows planes and how slow and low they can go and need to go to safely let off the men over their target. Night flights over Europe happened and paratroopers learned to navigate in rough terrain and little visibility. He would know how to hide or pack and carry his parachute after landing. D.B. Cooper stepped off the back of that airliner like someone who had done it before, like someone who was trained in just that maneuver.
Now as to why. Why did he do it? A young man growing up in America and serving in WWII would have been instilled in patriotism and immense pride in America. How hard must that have been to see that same country in the 1960s? The protests against Vietnam, the confusion and division as to why we were there. People literally burning the American flag. It must have been very hard to watch and very hard to see the country he loved and defended to change so dramatically. So he decided to leave that country. But to do that he needed money.
A mature, sensible man carefully planned out his heist and escape. He even bought the ticket in his own name because that was what you were supposed to do. He knew he would either get away or be dead so it didn’t matter if they knew his name. The heist went as was planned, no one was hurt and he could bail out of the plane at night over a wooded area as he had done during the war. Then it was only a matter of washing his hair and face to return them to their natural look. He also removed the suit for the more casual attire he had on underneath. He found a ride, paid off the driver and was on his way to Mexico as the story was breaking.
Dan Cooper is a fairly common name. It could have been any of hundreds if not thousands of men in America in 1971. Add to that a white male in his mid-40s with an average build. Very non-descript and easily confused when looking at possible suspects and mugshots. A clean cut man in a dark suit on an airplane would not have gained much notice. The description could suit almost anyone at that time.
I believe Dan Cooper got away with his money and left the country that he had defended only later to have that same country disappoint him. Perhaps he came back when the turmoil of the 1960s and early 70s had shifted and lived peacefully in the America he loved. Or he may have found a nice spot on the beach and made a new home.
We may never know what happened. New names are still being brought up as possible suspects. I am sure the FBI catalogs all of them. But perhaps they found out the truth when Dan Cooper passed. Perhaps he confessed and returned what was left of the money before he died and that is why they closed the case. Not so much that they figured out who did it and could tell the world who D.B. Cooper was but that they never caught Dan Cooper and wanted to keep that out of the press. Now that is a very American thing to do. I wonder if Dan Cooper would be proud.
About the Creator
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