Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gratuitous DB Cooper post, Number 1

Every once in a while, I should be able to turn away from movies to another interest, right? Here's one ... every so often, I go off on a Google tangent on various events of the 1970s, things that I knew were going on, but didn't quite have the capacity to process in childhood. I have a chronic fascination with all those little unsolved mysteries. Those interests include the case of "D.B. Cooper," aka "Dan Cooper," the mysterious legendary skyjacker who leapt out the back of a 727 with $200,000 and a parachute into the Washington state wilderness in November 1971. Alive or dead, he was never located, and his alias has entered into folk legend.

So last week, an amateur Cooper sleuth named Galen Cook released his theory as to the identity of Cooper, written up in a small Oregon newspaper where the identified man, William Pratt "Wolfgang" Gossett, lived as he aged. There also was another theory posited in New York magazine last year involving a former employee of the airline, Kenneth Christiansen. That candidate was championed by Sherlock Investigations, a NY-based PI firm.

Cook's guy, reportedly now deceased, has the advantage of bearing an extremely strong resemblance in certain pictures to the FBI composite of Cooper, if the photographs are authentic. He allegedly was a military guy with parachuting and survivalist training. He allegedly told his sons about his identity, as well as a couple of other people. Keep in mind, though that this investigation started as a result of an appearance on Coast to Coast AM, the old Art Bell show. So take with a grain of salt.

The New York mag guy, also reportedly deceased, who worked for Northwest Airlines (then Northwest Orient) as a steward and a mechanic, allegedly had a background in military jumping, as well. He bought a ranch with cash a year after the hijacking. When shown a photo, one stewardess from the flight reportedly said it was the closest resemblance of any photo she has ever been shown. However, the FBI thinks the man is too short, too light, too pale of skin, with the wrong eye color to match multiple eyewitness descriptions.

Personally, I think the background of NY mag's guy is interesting, because Cooper was allegedly a copycat of a failed similar attempt two weeks before. His familiarity with the airline, the airplane, and flight routes might have given him an advantage, given the compressed timeframe. But man, one of those alleged photos of Cook's guy is such a dead ringer.

Keep in mind, claims of being Cooper come a dime a dozen, and certainly nothing is guaranteed. One of these men is for sure innocent, and possibly both. The FBI, of course, still holds that Cooper most likely died either during the jump or of exposure in the woods.

Anyway, I find this sort of thing interesting. Thought I would pass it along.


Jeff McMahon said...

I'm a big fan of these kind of unexplained stories, too, enigmas without resolution.

A friend of mine made a film about this case (he played D.B. himself even though looking nothing like him) and his answer was a fall into the Columbia River and getting tangled in his parachute.

K. Bowen said...

Hey Jeff,

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one. Your friend isn't Treat Williams, is it? :)

I do wonder why a big, giant film project hasn't taken place about this one, besides that 1981 effort. The late-sixties, early seventies seem like they have been excellent fodder for filmmaking (Zodiac,One Day in September, Munich, The Last King of Scotland, Nixon, to name a few), and this would seem like excellent material.

So what was your friend's film?

Anonymous said...

something to ponder: JFK was assassinated on November 22nd. D.B. Cooper jumped on November
24th. This new suspect, Wolfgang Gossett, was a military man throughout the 50's and 60's, with combat jump training in the early 60's and military law later in the late 60's. I wonder if he may have come across some important documents about the JFK assassination showing that the military was involved in the plot. Maybe his near-anniversay jump was "some kind of message" to the government. Except for the $6000, none of the ransom money ever surfaced again. Maybe the money aspect was ancillary to a deeper plot?????

Anonymous said...

The latest info revealed on Coast-to-Coast by the attorney/investigator who is trying to crack the D.B. Cooper case is this:

Cooper landed in Oregon, not WA state.

Cooper planted the money on the north bank of the Columbia River to make it LOOK like he perished in the jump.

(that's exactly what the FBI standard line has been all of these years........ Cooper landed in WA state and died in the jump).

No you tell me, who is smarter? The FBI or D.B.?

My money is on D.B.