When skyjacker D.B. Cooper leaped from a 727-airplane clutching $200,000 in ransom money, he was never seen again.
Was it the perfect crime? Or did Cooper die near where he landed? The case remains the only unsolved skyjacking in U.S. history, with the FBI officially concluding their investigation into the case in July 2016.
On the night before Thanksgiving in 1971, Cooper hijacked Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 - a Boeing 727 owned and operated by Northwest Orient Airlines - while it was flying from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington.
After getting onboard the short 30-minute flight, Cooper - who bought his ticket using cash and using the name Dan Cooper - handed a note to female flight attendant Florence Schaffner who was sitting directly behind him.
"Miss, you'd better look at that note," Cooper reportedly told the flight attendant after she dropped the note into her purse without reading it. "I have a bomb."
According to the flight attendant, Cooper then ordered her to sit next to him and he showed her the alleged bomb he had hidden within a briefcase. Cooper then listed his demands to the flight attendant, who wrote the demands down before delivering them to the cockpit.
"He requests $200,000 in a knapsack by 5:00pm," the list of Cooper's demands read, which were promptly transmitted via radio by the plane's pilot, Captain William A. Scott, to Northwest Flight Operations based in Minnesota.
"He wants two front parachutes, two back parachutes," the demands continued. "He wants the money in negotiable American currency."
Shortly thereafter, Cooper began making more demands to Tina Mucklow - a second female flight attendant who became Cooper's liaison between himself and Captain Scott. Cooper further demanded that he wanted fuel trucks to meet the plane when it landed in Washington, and that he would not let the rest of the passengers onboard the flight go until the $200,000 and four parachutes were delivered to him via Mucklow.
Donald Nyrop, the president of Northwest Orient at the time of the skyjacking, authorized the $200,000 ransom payment and ordered the plane's personnel to fully cooperate with Cooper's many demands.
Following a two-hour delay so the authorities could acquire the $200,000 and four parachutes, the plane landed at Seattle Tacoma Airport. Mucklow successfully delivered the money and chutes to Cooper, at which point he allowed Schaffner, the plane's passengers and a senior flight attendant named Alice Hancock to safely exit the 727.
The Boeing 727 once again took off around 7:40 PM, at which point Cooper ordered Mucklow to enter the cockpit and join the other three men still onboard - Captain Scott, the plane's first officer and the plane's flight engineer.
Around 8:13 PM - just more than 30 minutes after the plane took off from Seattle Tacoma Airport - Cooper opened a door to the plane's main cabin. When the flight landed two hours later at Reno–Tahoe International Airport, Cooper, the $200,000, the four parachutes and the alleged bomb were no longer on board.
Despite never himself being found, two traces of Cooper were revealed in the thick woods of Oregon and Washington.
In 1979 a hunter found an exit sign from the plane's rear hatch. Then, one year later, a young 8-year-old boy discovered $5,800 worth of bills suspected to be from Cooper’s skyjacking decaying on a nearby river bank.