You know who’s really freaking fascinating? D. B. Cooper. There’s another wild lead about him in the news, so it made me think about him again.
Sure, he hijacked a 727 and parachuted into obscurity with $200,000 ransom money in 1971. (Woop de doo! I know that was a lot more money in 1971, but it just sounds so lame now.) If he or his lifeless body would have ever been found, only a really small niche would even remember his name at this point. But, since he completely disappeared, he kind of seems like less of a bad guy and more like a bad ass.
Besides, by today’s standards, his hijacking was “polite.” From the get-go, he announced he was hijacking the jet by handing the flight attendant a note, saying, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.” None of this bursting out of your seat and waving around an Uzi stuff. The note itself was even tactful, reading, “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.” Calculating? Yes, he obviously planned that one. But an effort to make the situation less traumatic? I’d also go affirmative on that one.
What kind of cold-hearted criminal has the plane land to refuel and let off all the innocent hostages? Well, one that wants his $200,000 and his parachutes, I guess. But, really, the FBI must have come a long way since 1971, because they pretty much cooperated with him. I just don’t see a crime like this going down today. It’s like Revolutionary War fighting, where they would all line up properly and take turns shooting each other.
The case seemed bungled from early on. D.B. wasn’t even the criminal’s name or alias. The media just was “misinformed.” The hijacker identified himself as Dan Cooper, but there was another random guy from Portland on the plane named D.B. Cooper who was “quickly cleared.” Hmmm.
Authorities really should have never let him take off again after refueling. If anything involves an airplane in this day and age, authorities are all over it. The TSA treats civilians like we’re all bloodthirsty bomb-mongers. Especially if we look a little suspicious. (Racial profiling!) Chris, being Italian, looks like he could be of Middle Eastern descent when he has a beard. I always make him shave it before he boards a plane now, because when he doesn’t, he’s “randomly selected” for extra screenings, explosive residue screenings, screenings I didn’t even know they made people do, every time.
But, I digress. Aside from being an awesome classic vanishing-into-thin-air story, the fact that the world was a totally different place in the early ’70s leaves me hoping they never really do find him. When I was little, my brother and I would play this game where we’d think up ridiculous places where D.B. Cooper was probably hiding. It sounds so much lamer than it was as I write this. I promise you, it was fit for hours of entertainment. My dad told us how he and his friends would play D.B. Cooper when they were little. He’s infamous. He’s a criminal. But I couldn’t help but have a small piece of me feel a little sad if they ever did find him and lock him up.
Part of me likes to think he’s sitting on an island somewhere drinking Mai Tais handed to him by beautiful women and and snickering under his breath about how he got away with it. Part of me likes to think he’s just going about his normal life somewhere right under everyone’s noses and took on a new life. But I never really like to think he just got squashed when he jumped out, because that takes all the fun out of the story.