The FBI said after one of the longest and most exhaustive probes in its history, it will no longer actively investigate the case of the man who called himself Dan Cooper and became known as “DB Cooper”.
It said after looking at all credible leads, enough is enough — resources spent on the Cooper case will be redirected to “focus on other investigative priorities”.
On November 24, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper had approached a Northwest Orient Airlines counter in Portland, Oregon and used cash to buy a one-way ticket on flight 305 to Seattle, Washington.
Cooper was wearing a business suit with a white shirt and black tie and appeared to be a quiet man in his mid-40s, the FBI said on its website.
While waiting for the Boeing 727 flight to take off, he ordered a bourbon and soda.
During the flight, he gave a flight attendant a note indicating he had a bomb in his briefcase and wanted her to sit with him, and she obeyed.Opening his attache case, Cooper gave the flight attendant a glimpse of wires and red-coloured sticks inside, the FBI said.
He asked her to write a note and take it to the plane’s captain, demanding four parachutes and $US200,000 in $US20 notes.
When the plane landed safely in Seattle, he exchanged the flight’s 36 passengers for the ransom money and parachutes, but kept several crew members on board.
He then ordered the plane to fly to Mexico City.
But somewhere between Seattle and Reno, just after 8:00pm (local time), he jumped from the back of the plane with a parachute and the money, falling through the freezing night air.
He left his black tie behind.
The plane landed safely, but no sign of Cooper was ever found again.
The FBI said they tracked leads, and by the five-year anniversary of the hijacking, more than 800 suspects had been considered.
One person from the list, Richard Floyd McCoy, remains a favourite among many, the FBI said.
“We tracked down and arrested McCoy for a similar airplane hijacking and escape by parachute less than five months after Cooper’s flight,” the FBI said on its website.
“But McCoy was later ruled out because he didn’t match the nearly identical descriptions of Cooper provided by two flight attendants and for other reasons.”
The FBI said it was possible Cooper did not survive the jump.
“After all, the parachute he used couldn’t be steered, his clothing and footwear were unsuitable for a rough landing and he had jumped into a wooded area at night,” it said.
Bundles of crumbling $US20 notes from the ransom money were unearthed by a small boy on a sandbar in the Columbia River in 1980, giving a boost to the theory he had died.
Evidence that will be preserved for historical purposes at FBI headquarters in Washington include that money, the man’s black tie and a parachute, the New York Daily News reported.