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In the year of 1971, on November 21st, one of the most famous and mysterious cases in American history had transpired. One that had even baffled the FBI for 45 years. A man who identified himself as D.B. Cooper had hijacked a plane, held it for ransom, and parachuted out of the plane afterward. Though the FBI chose to close the investigation on July 8, 2016 to divert their resources to other cases (Dietrich-Williams), Cooper’s identity and whereabouts after escaping the plane are still unknown to this day. Did he manage to survive, or did he die shortly after his escape?  Through the analysis of the evidence found since his disappearance, a potential answer to these questions can be found.    Why did D.B. Cooper possess so much knowledge concerning the plane, a Boeing 727? Cooper was very familiar with many aspects of the particular plane. “He chose a 727-100 aircraft because it was ideal for a bail-out escape, due not only to its aft airstair, but also the high, aftward placement of all three engines… It had “single-point fueling” capability, a recent innovation that allowed all tanks to be refueled rapidly through a single fuel port. It also had the ability..to remain in slow, low-altitude flight without stalling; and Cooper knew how to control its airspeed and altitude without entering the cockpit..” (Gunther 46). Not only that, but he was                                             Candelaria 2also aware of the 727’s unique flap setting, and the time it takes to refuel it. Infact, some of the information Cooper possessed was unique to CIA the year of the hijacking (Himmelsbach & Worcester 43)    While there are theories that Cooper was a paratrooper, or was a skilled parachuter, there is considerable evidence that proves otherwise. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cooper was not an expert skydiver. FBI special agent Carr believes that “no experienced parachutist would have jumped in the pitch-black night, in the rain, with a 200-mile-an-hour wind in his face, wearing loafers and a trench coat. It was simply too risky.” If Cooper had considerable skill in skydiving, he also would’ve checked the parachutes and noticed that he chose a reserve parachute for training that had been sewn shut. It’s evident from these observations that the hijacker had less knowledge on parachuting than what investigators had thought earlier in the investigation.    The FBI had tested one of the few pieces of evidence found left on Cooper’s seat, a clip on tie, in the early 2000s and had DNA results, but they are unsure whether the DNA was that of Cooper’s. An ABC news article written by Jack Cloherty provided a statement given to the website from FBI agent Fred Gutt. “The tie had two small DNA samples, and one large sample,” said Special Agent Fred Gutt. “It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions from these samples” (Cloherty). However, years later, A team of researchers from the website Citizensleuths had                                             Candelaria 3cooperated with the FBI in having the tie scientifically investigated once again. The lead scientist on the case, Tom Kaye, stated: “One of the most notable particles that we’ve found, that had us the most excited, was titanium metal.” This evidence may seem unimportant, but it’s actually useful in understanding Cooper’s background. “Titanium is used in things from golf clubs to cookware these days, but in 1971 it was extremely rare” (Ingalls). The fact that there was pure titanium found on the tie when titanium was scarce at the time, Kaye believes, suggests that Cooper could have worked in a titanium production facility, ar worked at a chemical plant.By the Columbia River, in February 1980, an eight year old boy had found a crucial piece of evidence regarding the D.B. Cooper case. He discovered packets of the ransom cash that had been given to D.B. Cooper, evident by the matching serial numbers, washed up on the river’s Tena Bar beachfront. These bills are integral evidence when it comes to investigating Cooper’s whereabouts. The bills were left seemingly untouched, still being held by the now deteriorating rubber bands. The discovery of these bills led to intense speculation as to where D.B. Cooper landed, and whether he survived. “Initial statements by investigators and scientific consultants were founded on the assumption that the bundled bills washed freely into the Columbia River from one of its many connecting tributaries. An Army Corps of Engineers hydrologist noted that the bills had disintegrated in a “rounded” fashion and were matted together, indicating that they had been deposited by river action, as opposed to having been deliberately buried”                                             Candelaria 4(Himmelsbach & Worcester 110). This places the likely sport where Cooper landed at Washougal River, which merges with the Columbia River.  How long had the bills been there? “Himmelsbach observed that free-floating bundles would have had to wash up on the bank “within a couple of years” of the hijacking; otherwise the rubber bands would have long since deteriorated” (FBI 11).The alias he gave, Dan Cooper, actually has a connection to a comic book character of the same name. Scientific illustrator Carol Abraczinskas told the Postmedia News that the comic held many interesting details that could be connected to the crime. “On the cover of one issue of the Belgium-produced comic — sold in Europe and French Canada shortly before Cooper’s hijacking of a Portland-to-Seattle flight — the Canadian superhero is shown parachuting from an aircraft. And that’s what the man calling himself Cooper did four decades ago this week — during a rainstorm while flying somewhere above the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest — to escape justice after receiving his ransom payoff from U.S. authorities…an episode involving a ransom delivered in a knapsack-agia matching the real life hijacking… ” (Boswell). The comic had only been published in France and Canada, in French only.  Cooper had also curiously used the term “negotiable American currency”, which implies he may have a non-US background. According to witnesses who Cooper had spoken to when he was on the plane, Cooper lacked an                                             Candelaria 5accent (Citizensleuths). This leaves the possibility that Cooper was French Canadian a plausible theory.Are any of the potential suspects probed by the FBI or theorized by others possibly the mysterious hijacker? The FBI conducted many investigations on numerous suspects regarding the identity of D.B. Cooper, including Ted Mayfield, a veteran and skydiver with a criminal record, Richard McCoy, a veteran and pilot who had been killed by the FBI after conducting a similar airplane hijacking, and all investigations of the suspects led to a dead end. Many people outside of the investigation have claimed themselves or family members to have been D.B. Cooper, but there have been no pieces of evidence linked to these other suspects besides weak testimonials, and many did not match with the DNA on the clip-on tie, and don’t match Cooper’s physical description from eyewitnesses and the composite sketch. It’s probable that the true identity of D.B. Cooper has still been undiscovered to this day.When we break down the evidence, what theory is the most credible and likely conclusion as to what happened to D.B. Cooper?  All we can do is speculate based on the few pieces of evidence found during the investigation. Based on every bit of evidence and testimony, it seems more likely that Cooper had fallen from the plane, had become injured due to the dummy parachute, and had managed to survive for a very short amount of time and walk around in the forest before dying. There’s no way he could’ve survived for a long enough time in the                                             Candelaria 6cold wilderness to get back to civilization. The FBI themselves believe that it isn’t very likely that D.B. Cooper managed to survive after the jump. “Diving into the wilderness without a plan, without the right equipment, in such terrible conditions, he probably never even got his chute open” (D.B. Cooper Redux).

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