D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?! Is it a true story? How much money did he steal? All your questions answered

D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?! Is it a true story? How much money did he steal? All your questions answered

Published July 14, 2022
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By Martin Shore published 13 July 22

D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?! is a gripping true-crime documentary, but who really was D. B. Cooper?

D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?! is a thrilling new true-crime documentary which has arrived on Netflix that reveals the fascinating story of one of the FBI’s great unsolved mysteries: The D. B. Cooper hijacking.

What started out as an ordinary flight became a terrifying ordeal as a man going by the name of Dan Cooper claimed he had a bomb in his briefcase. He then demanded parachutes and a huge cash sum from one of the flight attendants, before escaping with his ransom by jumping out the back of the plane. 

50 years on, D. B. Cooper’s identity still remains a mystery, one which has continued to fascinate detectives and amateur sleuths alike, which you’ll see in this new four-part documentary series.

What really happened that day? How much money did D. B. Cooper take? And where did the nickname D. B. Cooper come from? Here are the answers to all your questions about D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?!… 

On November 24, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper used cash to purchase a one-way ticket bound for Seattle, Washington from the Northwest Orient Airlines counter in Portland, Oregon.

Whilst waiting for the flight to take off, he ordered a bourbon and soda. Just after 3 pm, Cooper passed a note to one of the flight attendants on board. The note revealed that he was hijacking the plane, that he had a bomb in his briefcase and wanted her to sit down next to him. She did as she was instructed, and then Cooper opened his briefcase to reveal a mass of wires and red sticks inside; he then demanded she wrote down what he said.

He dictated a ransom note to her, demanding four parachutes and $200,000 in $20 bills. She wrote this down and then delivered this new note to the captain of the plane. 

The flight landed in Seattle, where the hijacker allowed the 36 passengers to get off the plane in exchange for the money and parachutes. Cooper kept several crew members on board and ordered that they set a new course for Mexico City once the plane was refueled.

Somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Cooper took off his black tie before leaping out the back of the plane with the ransom money and one of the parachutes a little after 8 pm. The pilots landed the plane safely in Reno, but Cooper escaped with the money and was never seen or heard from again.

The FBI launched a huge investigation (opens in new tab) — dubbed NORJAK, for “Northwest Hijacking” — into the event. During the investigation, they interviewed hundreds of people across the United States; by the five-year anniversary of the hijacking, they had considered over 800 suspects, but D. B. Cooper was never found.

In 2016, the FBI announced that it had “redirected resources allocated to the DB Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities”, suggesting that we may never find out who this mystery hijacker really was.

D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?! is a true story, as D. B. Cooper’s hijacking really happened all those years ago. 

As we mentioned, D. B. Cooper escaped with a ransom worth $200,000 in cash in 1971. Adjusted for inflation, his ransom would now worth around $1.4 million in today’s money. 

One of the possible explanations for how D. B. Cooper has never been identified is the popular theory that Cooper actually did not survive the jump from his plane. The parachute he’d used could not be steered, and his business suit and shoes were unsuitable for a rough landing (Cooper had jumped out over a rugged, wooded area).

Additional evidence that could suggest Cooper did not survive the fall came in 1980. An eight-year-old boy discovered a bag containing nearly $60000 in damaged twenty-dollar bills with serial numbers that matched those on the ransom money on a beach near the Columbia River. 

Ultimately, though, whether or not he survived the jump is still just as unclear as his identity. 

Yes! The trailer recaps the case and gives us a glimpse at the huge amount of attention D. B. Cooper’s case got from news footage to a shot of a movie theater hosting “Cooper Con”.

In the trailer, we learn just how easy it used to be to get on a plane, and get a sense of interest there still is in the case and how there are still so many people being drawn into the mystery of D. B. Cooper even today.

Check it out below:

D. B. Cooper: Where Are You?! starts streaming on Netflix on Wednesday, July 13.

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.

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