Indisputable facts: On Thanksgiving eve 1971, a man bought a plane ticket from PDX to SEA under the name "Dan Cooper." He smoked a ciggie, drank a bourbon and soda, and passed the stewardess a note explaining he had a bomb. He asked for 200 large and four parachutes. He insisted there be "no funny stuff." When his demands were met in Seattle, he released the passengers and told the crew to stay in the cockpit as they flew slow and low toward Mexico City. He exited the plane somewhere before Reno. A few bundles of bills and a placard explaining how to lower the stairs of a Boeing 727 were found on the ground; he hasn't been caught, despite a massive search. The story has inspired novels, songs, films and been referenced everywhere from Dilbert to Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba."
Now for the conjecture...
Scenario 1: Cooper died on the jump, his body shredded like mozzarella by the trees below, his carcass scavenged by coyotes.
Scenario 2: Cooper is living happily in a yurt on the side of Mount Hood.
Scenario 3: It doesn't much matter what happened to Cooper and his measly $200,000—just admire the cultural impact of the legend he spawned.
Put Doug Kenck-Crispin, founder of orhistory.com and organizer of the D.B. Cooper 40th Anniversary Spectacular at Mississippi Studios, down for No. 3. "As a historian, I don't know what happened to him," he says. "As the lover of a good story, I like to picture him twisting down through the wind and landing safely."
Theories on Cooper will be bandied about as Matt Love reads from HA-HA-HA, a 1983 book purportedly written by the hijacker, and Dr. Katy Barber speaks about Pacific Northwest themes sewn into the D.B. Cooper saga. Jarad Miles and Oh Darling play their music in between.
Just hope there's no breakthrough in the case in the meantime. "It's better not knowing," Kenck-Crispin said. "If we found a decaying skeleton with a bunch of money around it, wouldn't that be kind of anticlimactic?"
SEE: The D.B. Cooper 40th Anniversary Spectacular is Sunday, Nov. 20, at Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., 288-3895. 7:30 pm. $5.
THURSDAY NOV. 17
[STORIES] The year's last edition of Back Fence features stories on the theme of "that's a mouthful," told by social worker Amber Jo Hatt, radio host Daria Eliuk, publisher Derrick Brown, competitive eater Erik "The Red" Denmark, world traveler Fiona McCann and actress sisters Shelley McLendon and Wendi McLendon-Covey.
FRIDAY NOV. 18
SATURDAY NOV. 19
MONDAY NOV. 21