The Search For D. B. Cooper

The Search For D. B. Cooper

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Language: English

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Number of phrases: 734

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just let me know [Music] [Music] during a parachute escape from applying 727 somewhere between wing search was made of the client immediately don't know who he was where he came from or where he went I expect it will keep looking until we find him or find out what happened in the afternoon of November the 24th 1971 a middle-aged man carrying a briefcase walked into Portland
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International Airport and purchased a one-way ticket to Seattle Washington the man identified himself as Dan Cooper and along with 36 other passengers and a crew of six he soon boarded Northwest Airlines flight 305 once aboard Cooper made himself comfortable in the middle of the last row seats on the right side of the cabin he ordered a drink and had a smoke because this was the 70s once the flight was cleared for departure Cooper turned
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around and handed an envelope to flight attendant Florence Schaffner inside the envelope was a note featuring a handwritten message stating he had a bomb Schaffner reluctantly sat down beside him and glimpsed what appeared to be eight sticks of dynamite inside his briefcase Cooper's demands were quite simple he wanted two hundred thousand dollars in cash and four parachutes he also demanded a fuel truck to stand ready to refuel the aircraft once they landed in Seattle should they fail to comply with
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his demands he threatened to quote do the job once the flight was airborne Schaffner went in formed the cockpit crew while another flight attendant by the name of Tina Mucklow remained by Cooper's side by using a telephone in the rear of the cabin Mucklow acted as an intermediary between Cooper and the rest of the flight crew for the remainder of the hijacking for the next hour and a half flight 305 maintained a holding pattern near Seattle while local and federal authorities scrambled to procure the ransom as well as the four parachutes 10,000 $20 bills were
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collected from a local bank while the owner of a nearby skydiving school supply the chutes at 5:45 p.m. more than two hours past its scheduled arrival fly 305 finally touched down in Seattle by this point it was well after sunset and the aircraft was brought to a remote section of the tarmac once the flight came to a stop both the ransom and the parachutes were handed over to Mach Lowe who then brought them back board in exchange Cooper permitted two of the flight attendants as well as all the passengers to disembark many of whom
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had not yet realized the flight had been hijacked with the ransom paid in only four crew members remaining on board Cooper told Motlow to inform the captain that he wanted to fly to Mexico City they were to fly with the landing gear down the flaps at fifteen degrees and below 10,000 feet the lights in the cabin were to be switched off and the aft stairway which opens from the underbelly of the fuselage was to remain extended two of Cooper's demands could
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not be satisfied first of all the flight configuration he'd requested would not allow for a nonstop flight to Mexico City as such Cooper proposed a refueling stop in Phoenix Yuma or Sacramento before they all agreed on Reno Nevada second of all it was not possible to depart with a ventral staircase extended Cooper agreed to retract his stairs on the condition that Mach low remained by his side and taught him how to extend them was the plane was airborne parked for nearly two hours due to complications with refueling fly 305 was
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back in the air by 7:30 6:00 p.m. less than five minutes after takeoff Cooper told mock Lowe to head for the cockpit and that from this point onwards he was not to be disturbed the last time she saw Cooper he was standing in the middle of the aisle as if though he was preparing to jump McCloud joined the rest of the crew locked the cockpit door behind her and some three hours later flight 305 safely landed in Reno once the flight came to a stop the crew carefully ventured into the rear of the cabin but there was no sign of Cooper
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nor the bomb the aft stairway had been extended mid-flight and was slightly damaged upon landing it seemed that there was only one explanation for the hijackers absence at some point between Seattle and Reno Cooper had strapped on a parachute walked down the stairs and leaped into the dark of night [Music] as soon as it became clear that Cooper was no longer on board dozens of FBI agents converged upon the aircraft only
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to discover a disappointing amount of physical evidence a black clip-on tie eight cigarette butts and two of the four parachutes were all that Cooper left behind evidently he'd brought the ransom and briefcase along with him in interviews conducted on the night of the hijacking a Cooper was described by the crew and passengers as a white male with brown eyes and dark hair he appeared to be in his mid-40s and wore a dark trench coat a dark suit a white shirt a black
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tie and dark shoes soon after boarding he'd also Don a pair of sunglasses based on this description the FBI produced the first of several composite sketches before they could mount a search however the FBI had to figure out when Cooper abandoned ship and but that was easier said than done none of the four crew members witnessed Cooper jumping from the plane nor that the pilots of two fighter jets which is core to the flight between Seattle and Reno which is not all too surprising given it was the middle of the night
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although the flight crew did report something odd the last communication with a hijacker occurred at approximately 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. when the crew used the intercom to offer assistance which Cooper declined within the next 10 minutes the crew experienced what they described as an oscillation or vibration of the aircraft at the time the crew suspected it might have been produced by Cooper's jump and a subsequent recreation of the hijacking supported that conclusion okay so that took care of the when but what about the where while Cooper was very explicit
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about the flights configuration and destination he never specified any kind of routes in fact Cooper grew so impatient with a slow refueling in Seattle that he dismissed the captain's request to file a flight plan and simply told him to quote get the show on the road as such the captain chose to fly along an airway known as Victor 23 without any input Cooper by using victor 23 as the guide authorities estimated a most probable location of the flight at the approximate the time of the jump was about 40 kilometers north of Portland
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and so at the break of dawn the FBI mounted an impressive search operation using helicopters airplanes and ground troops the problem was even if the estimated bail out point was accurate Cooper's eventual landing or drop zone was far more difficult to pinpoint the loosely defined search area covered a vast stretch of mountainous wilderness occluded by a dense forest so it was truly like finding a needle in a haystack apart from the difficult terrain the search was further complicated by low temperatures and
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inclement weather which persisted for days despite their best efforts authorities never managed to find a single trace of Cooper nor the items he brought along with him having made little to no progress by early December the FBI turned their attention to the $200,000 ransom the money had been collected from the Seattle First
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National Bank which maintained a ransom package of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars just for such education because of this the serial numbers of the 10,000 $20 banknotes given to Cooper had been documented in advance a complete list of which were quickly made available to financial institutions government agencies and the general public the intention was to make it as difficult as possible for Cooper to spend his money Northwest Airlines and several newspapers even began to offer rewards to anyone who could find a note with a matching serial number in spite
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of these efforts no one ever did that is until nearly a decade later in early 1980 a young boy named Brian Ingram was building a campfire on a small beach in southern Washington as he was digging into the sand Ingraham discovered three bundles of cash totaling five thousand eight hundred and eighty dollars having heard about the infamous skyjacking engrams parents brought the severely degraded bundles to the FBI the notes were promptly inspected and sure enough the serial
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numbers matched those of the ransom [Music] once the excitement subsided however the money managed to race far more questions than it answered the most significant of which was how how did the money end up so far away from the drop zone looking at this map it might be tempting to think that Cooper simply dropped some of the money which then fell into the Lewis River the bundles could enema carried further downstream by the Columbia River before finally being washed ashore at
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Tina bar which is the name of the beach Tina Mucklow Tina bore coincidence yeah coincidence anyway the problem with this idea is that the Columbia River flows in the opposite direction this has led some including members of the FBI to reevaluate the initial drop zone assessment for instance if the drop zone was much farther southeast close to a river called a Washougal River it is conceivable albeit improbable that the money floated all the way down to Tina bar alternatively the bundles may have
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simply landed on the beach if the flight path was further to the west even so natural explanations struggle to explain how three independent potentially free-falling and or free-floating bundles of cash in the rapid exact same place on the same beach to complicate matters sediments from the riverbed was excavated and dumped on to Tina bore as part of a dredging operation in 1974 and according to one analysis the money was discovered above this layer of sediment
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if true that would mean the money came to rest at ena bora sometime after 1974 but a reexamination of that analysis found that what was believed to be a layer of the posted sediment might actually been a perfectly natural layer of clay not only that but the sediment was clearly dumped some distance away from where the money was discovered furthermore when Ingram discovered the bundles the rubber bands which held them together were still intact this is significant because experiments conducted in 2009 revealed that this brand of rubber bands could not
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withstand exposure to open air or water for more than a year so unless the bundles were somehow protected from the elements they must become buried at inna bar within a year of the hijacking the most probable explanation therefore seems to be that Cooper or someone else deliberately buried the money did Cooper survive and buried the money himself that someone else buried the money after stumbling upon Cooper's remains if there is an explanation which does not require human intervention its
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managed to elude investigators for decades suffice it to say this is a mystery within a mystery since Ingram's discovery 1980 both Tina bar and the grounds around the rashugal River have been subjected to numerous searches but to date there's four no sign of Cooper nor the rest of the money [Music] from the very beginning it was assumed by many that Cooper did not survive his daring escape it would not make for very
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thrilling conclusion to this story but that's the thing about stories they are usually far more exciting than reality while there is no hard evidence for nor against Cooper survival the assumption that he fell to his death is not without merit when Cooper leaped into the darkness flight 305 was plowing through a frigid rainstorm at roughly 170 knots 10,000 feet above southern Washington the wind was so violent that it ripped out a placard from the aft stairway which was later recovered in 1978 almost
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directly below the estimated flight path to say that Cooper was not dressed for the occasion there would be an understatement the ground beneath him meanwhile was obscured by multiple layers of clouds which likely means that Cooper jumped without knowing his precise location even if he could see the ground and had a specific drop zone in mind the parachute he selected was known as spherical meaning he would not have been able to steer his descent towards a specific landing spot thus precluding any potential coordination with an accomplice
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stationed on the ground while Cooper expressed some familiarity with parachutes his actual competence level is up for debate it's widely believed that Cooper demanded two pairs of parachutes two primary and two reserved to make the authorities believe that he intended to take a hostage that is precisely what happened as the FBI contemplated but eventually decided against sabotaging the chutes as they did not want to risk the life of an innocent civilian but in their haste to obtain them the unintentionally provided Cooper with a non-functional dummy chute
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intended for training purposes this mishap seems to have gone unnoticed by Cooper because that dummy chute was one of the two missing from the plane not only that but Cooper chose the older and technically inferior parachute out of the two primary chutes provided so in both cases it seems like Cooper made the worst possible choice but there are other ways to interpret this information for instance it's possible that Cooper used the dummy chute not as a reserve but as a means to secure the bag of money in
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fact that is precisely what Cooper tried to do with a functional reserve chute first he tried to place the money in the chutes canopy before removing some of the suspension lines and wrapped them around the bag perhaps he used the damage suit for a similar purpose in Cooper's decision to use the older primary chute is not necessarily an indication of an experience it could also be a sign of familiarity because the chute he left behind was a civilian luxury chute while the one he used was a military chute the argument is that Cooper might have been trained as say a
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paratrooper and shows the older military chute because that's the one with which he was most familiar and there is at least one other reason to suspect that Cooper had a military background while the flight was in a holding pattern near Seattle Cooper mentioned that the McChord Air Force Base was only 20 minutes away from the seattle-tacoma Airport at the time that was an accurate assessment and might suggest a military background apart from the potential military connections Cooper may even have had links to the Central Intelligence Agency you see the type of
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aircraft which Cooper chose to hijack a Boeing 727 was also used by the CIA to covertly drop agents and supplies during the Vietnam War a task for which the Boeing 727 was uniquely qualified due to its distinctive aft stairway so it's fairly safe to assume that Cooper chose to hijack a Boeing 727 specifically because it provided a relatively safe means of escape whether he learned of this from the CIA or came to that conclusion independently is another question however the fact that Cooper
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chose to hijack a flight operated by Northwest Airlines was apparently random chance when Tina Mucklow asked Cooper about his motives he responded it's not because they have a grudge towards your airline it's just because I have a grudge he further clarified that flight 305 just happened to be in the right place at the right time even so it's clear that Cooper came prepared he seemed to know a great deal about aircraft in aviation he appeared to be familiar with a local terrain he maintained a low profile to avoid a
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panic he covered his eyes with a pair of glasses too see Ellis identity he left very little evidence behind and he demanded for parachutes to force the assumption that he was taking hostage he was even cunning enough to reclaim the note which he'd initially given to Florence Schaffner apart from the name he wrote on his plane ticket there are no other samples of Cooper's handwriting but for all his planning and cunning it seems Cooper did not give enough thought to his eventual escape not only did he fail to specify a route but he was
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forced to make a last-minute destination change from Mexico City to Reno he could have demanded more appropriate parachuting equipment like a pair of boots a helmet or jumpsuit he could even have specified the ransom to be delivered in larger denominations to make it lighter and less cumbersome to carry pursuing he did survive the fall and made it safely to the ground he may then event to make his way through a dense partially snow-covered forest in nothing but loafers and a trench coat in late November I get the distinct impression that Cooper's escape was much
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more of a leap of faith than a carefully executed jump on the other hand authorities never received a missing persons report matching the description of Cooper in the wake of the hijacking this might suggest that Cooper did survive annatee swiftly and quietly resumed his normal routine furthermore other hijackers have performed similar stunts and many of them did survive even if they were quickly apprehended finally the simplest explanation for how three bundles of cash and the patina bar is
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human intervention at the end of the day most of this is based on nothing but supposition without any concrete evidence of Cooper's demise it leaves the door wide open to the far more exciting proposition that he did in fact survive by the time the press got wind of the hijacking the FBI had already begun to investigate a few potential suspects among them was a man in Portland with initials DB and surnamed Cooper this Cooper was quickly eliminated as a suspect but due to a mix-up by the press
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the name Dan Cooper was confused for DB Cooper and the rest is history while Dan Cooper is most likely a pseudonym there is a comic book series of the same name the comic is written in French and centers around a Canadian pilot named Dan Cooper while the comic was not translated into English nor sold in the United States before 1971 it was available in Canada which has a large french-speaking population given that American and Canadian accents can be difficult to distinguish it's possible
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that Cooper who was described as having no discernable accent was a bilingual Canadian this might even be supported by something that Cooper might have said you see when the captain relate Cooper's demands to air traffic control he used a phrase negotiable American currency it seems doubtful that an American citizen would specify American currency so perhaps Cooper was North American the problem is we don't know if this is a direct quote from Cooper or paraphrasing by the captain
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for instance notes taken by the crew during the hijacking merely contained a phrase negotiable currency while testimonies provided by the crew after the hijacking include phrases like two hundred thousand dollars in cash and circulated a US currency so Cooper might have been Canadian and he might have taken his name from the Dan Cooper comics just as he might have been American and might have taken his name from something or someone else nearly half a century has gone by since the hijacking took place and in that time
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thousands of suspects have been questioned and investigated it would obviously be impossible to cover all of them here but let's take a look at some of the people that at some point or another have been suspected of being DB Cooper Robert rack straw first became a suspect in 1978 and on the surface he seems like a solid candidate he was a decorated Army paratrooper and helicopter pilot he had experience with explosives he had an extensive criminal record he had an uncle named John Cooper who was an avid
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skydiver he was expelled from the Army only months before the hijacking which might suggest a motive after all the hijacker did say he had a grudge when confronted by journalists and private investigators rack straw would neither confirm nor outright deny that he was DB Cooper instead he'd say things like I could have been or I would not discount myself on the other hand rack straw had light-colored eyes which Cooper did not more significantly rack straw was only 28 years of age at the
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time of the hijacking this is well outside a range of Ages reported by the crew and passengers most of whom believed Cooper was in his mid 40s kenneth christensen first became a suspect in 2003 when his brother noticed certain parallels between him and cooper christensen had briefly served as a paratrooper in world war ii and since 1953 he'd worked for northwest airlines is both a mechanic and a flight attendant he was 45 years old at the time of the hijacking he was left hand at which cooper might have been for
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instance cooper used his left hand to interact with his briefcase and the clip-on tie he left on board was affixed with a tie clasp applied from the left shortly before he died in 1994 Christiansen had supposedly told his brother there is something you should know but I cannot tell you after his passing his family discovered over two hundred thousand dollars in his bank accounts to top it all off Florence Schaffner stated at photographs of Christiansen bore a strong resemblance to Cooper on the other hand Christiansen
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did not match the physical description of Cooper he was both shorter and lighter while Schaffner did see a strong resemblance she remarked that Cooper had more hair and that is supported by the composite sketches and there was nothing suspicious about the large sums of money which he'd simply earned by selling land richard mccoy first became a suspect in 1972 when he hijacked a Boeing 727 and escaped via the aft stairway much like DB Cooper because of the significant
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overlap between the two hijackings some believe they must have been committed by the same person McCoy used a fake name he used a fake hand grenade to threaten the crew he used handwritten notes to issue his demands both McCoy and Cooper used to phrase no funny stuff as a warning to the crew McCoy demanded $500,000 in cash and four parachutes McCoy also bail out the back of the plane was they passed over his hometown in the state of Utah apart from the similar modus operandi McCoy had also served in the Vietnam War as a
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demolitions expert and a helicopter pilot McCoy did actually survive the fall and managed to evade authorities for two full days before he was apprehended and sentenced to 45 years in prison before his death in 1974 McCoy refused to confirm or deny that he was DB Cooper on the other hand McCoy was an avid recreational skydiver and even came prepared with a skydiving helmet and jumpsuit he gave very specific instructions about the flight path in addition to the fake Hand Grenade McCoy also used an unloaded handgun to
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threaten the crew he failed to retrieve one of the notes he'd given to a flight attendant he was only 29 years of age at a time of the hijacking and all three flight attendants were quite certain that McCoy was not Cooper while there are meaningful parallels between these two cases McCoy might simply have been a compa cat who dread about DB Cooper in the news Duane Weber first became a suspect in 1995 when shortly before his death he supposedly told his wife I've got a secret to tell you I am Dan Cooper
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following his deathbed confession Weber's waiter recalled a number of fascinating details she claims that found a bank bag resembling the one used in the hijacking she claims Weber had sustained a knee injury after jumping out of a plane Weber supposedly had a nightmare about leaving his fingerprints on the aft stairs and a year before the money was discovered at inna bar Weber had allegedly paid a quick visit to the same location in addition Weber was a world war two veteran he had an extensive criminal record he matched the physical description and he was 47 years old in
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1971 on the other hand Weber's fingerprints did not match any of the prints collected from flight 305 although to be fair there's no way to know if any of those prints actually belong to Cooper furthermore Weber's DNA did not match a DNA sample collected from the tie clasp but once again there's no way to know if the DNA on the tie clasp actually came from the hijacker and not someone else what so frustrating is that the FBI likely had a much better source of DNA at one point if you recall eight cigarette butts were
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collected from the scene and there's a good chance they were all suffused with Cooper's DNA the problem is that evidence was lost at some point and has not turned up since William Smith first became a suspect in 2018 Smith served in the Navy during World War two and likely had some experience with parachuting he was 43 years old at the time of the hijacking he had dark brown eyes he matched a physical description he shared a certain likeness with a composite sketches especially this speculative sketch of an
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older DB Cooper a student named IRA Daniel Cooper who was killed in World War two attended the same high school as Smith Smith worked as a yard master for a railroad company for most of his life but in 1970 the company filed for bankruptcy as a consequence Smith lost his pension which might suggest a motive he could for instance have developed a grudge towards the airline industry for their role in bringing about the downfall of the rail transportation industry it's further speculated that Smith grabbed used his knowledge of
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railroad networks to hop on a train and escape undetected on the other hand Smith spent his entire life in the northeastern United States given that the hijacking occurred on the other side of the country and was committed by someone who at least appeared to be familiar with the local terrain Smith is not the most ideal candidate however the fact that Smith worked as a yard master is interesting you see the tie that Cooper left behind was recently examined using an electron microscope which and
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covered various metallic particles some of these particles especially pure titanium were quite rare in 1971 this might suggest that Cooper worked as a manager at some sort of chemical or metallurgical facility or possibly a rail yard [Music] if nothing else I hope this limited selection of suspects illustrates just how difficult it is to be certain when you have so little evidence to work with these five individuals look nothing
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alike yet any one of them could be DB Cooper was Cooper really in his mid-40s or did he simply look old for his age did Cooper really serve in the military which one of these sketches most closely resemble Cooper in 2016 the FBI had to admit defeat and officially close down the case unless someone stumbles upon Cooper's remains or manages to track down the rest of the money it seems there is little hope of resolution did Cooper survive I have no idea but as
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long as that possibility cannot be dismissed the legend of DB Cooper will no doubt persist [Music] [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music]

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