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FBI makes new plea for public's help in identifying skyjacker from 1971
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The FBI is making a new stab at identifying mysterious skyjacker Dan Cooper, who bailed out of an airliner in 1971 and vanished, releasing new details that it hopes will jog someone's memory.
The man calling himself Dan Cooper, also known as D.B. Cooper, boarded a Northwest flight in Portland for a flight to Seattle on the night of Nov. 24, 1971, and commandeered the plane, claiming he had dynamite.
In Seattle, he demanded and got $200,000 and four parachutes and demanded to be flown to Mexico. Somewhere over southwestern Washington, he jumped out the plane's tail exit with two of the chutes.
On Monday, the FBI released drawings that it said probably are close to what Cooper looked like, along with a map of areas where Cooper might have landed.
"Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? We're providing new information and pictures and asking for your help in solving the case," the FBI said in a statement.
The FBI said that while Cooper was originally thought to have been an experienced jumper, it has since concluded that was wrong and that he almost certainly didn't survive the jump in the dark and rain. He hadn't specified a route for the plane to fly and had no way of knowing where he was when he went out the exit.
"Diving into the wilderness without a plan, without the right equipment, in such terrible conditions, he probably never even got his chute open," Seattle-based agent Larry Carr said.
He also didn't notice that his reserve chute was intended only for training and had been sewn shut.
Several people have claimed to be Cooper over the years but were dismissed on the basis of physical descriptions, parachuting experience and, later, by DNA evidence recovered in 2001 from the cheap tie the skyjacker left on the plane.
In 1980, a boy walking near the Columbia River found $5,800 of the stolen money, in tattered $20 bills.
"Maybe a hydrologist can use the latest technology to trace the $5,800 in ransom money found in 1980 to where Cooper landed upstream," Carr said. "Or maybe someone just remembers that odd uncle."