Welcome back. My absence over the past four weeks and the rumors about where I might have been may have some similarities with another missing man whose disappearance you may have heard of. Here is his story, told in the first person.
The date was Wednesday November 24, 1971, Thanksgiving Eve. In order to conceal my identity I paid cash for a one way ticket at the ticket counter of Northwest Orient Airlines in the Portland International Airport. A frequent flyer, I took a seat in the back of the plane, ordered a bourbon and lit a cigarette which in those days you could do. I was dressed in business attire wearing a black raincoat over a dark suit, starched white shirt and black clip on tie.
The plane was one third full when we took off and shortly afterwards I handed a note to the flight attendant. Printed in neat capital letters, the note stated that I had a bomb in my briefcase. I let her peek inside the bag where she could see eight red cylinders I had attached to a large battery. I told her straight out that I wanted $200,000 in U.S. dollars, four parachutes and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the plane. If all my requests were met the passengers could go free. When the plane landed in Seattle all my demands were granted and true to my word all but four people were released. The pilot, the co-pilot, a flight attendant, a flight engineer and myself all stayed on board. After take-off I told the four to get into the cockpit of the plane. I ordered the pilot to keep the plane at 10,000 feet, to cruise at the minimum speed needed to stay in the air and to keep the cabin depressurized and not to come out of the cockpit until we landed.
Moving to the back of the plane, I opened the rear doors to the outside. It was dark but in the shadows I could see the planes following us, two F-16 fighter jet behind and others above and on either side. It took about fifteen minutes to put on my parachute and tuck the money away. I knew I would have to free fall a long way to avoid detection and without any further thought I jumped.
This is one of the most written about aviation mysteries ever. Could I have survived the jump from a jet plane? If I did survive how did I get away? It was all wilderness along the plane’s route.
47 years later, after countless FBI probes, investigations by the Army and local Sheriffs’ departments searching the ground beneath the plane’s flight pattern along with offers of big rewards, the cloud that has covered this fascinating story just might be lifted. Now returning from a mysterious disappearance myself, could it be that I am D.B. Cooper, the man they are looking for? To find out the answer to that question and the reason for my disappearance, call Matt Tranquil, the Publisher of the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise at (918) 335-8200.
Next week it’s another ‘who am I?” with a local twist. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..
P.S. If you are interested in reading more about this story check out Marla Wynn Cooper’s book abut the man she says was her uncle. You can download the kindle version by following this link.