Free at last, D.B. Cooper still worst skydiver
The FBI may have finally given up on finding famous hijacker D.B. Cooper, but he’ll always remain one of history’s worst skydivers. After hijacking a Northwest Airlines flight in 1971 and receiving a demanded $200,000 and several parachutes (was he planning to take someone with him or just shopping for fit?), the Coop doffed his clip-on tie, lowered the rear stairs of the Northwest Boeing 727 and jumped into the night.
Weather conditions were miserable that night (the Pacific Northwest, and all) and Cooper only wore a suit and loafers. Perhaps worst of all, jumping from a jet airliner isn’t like stepping out of a pokey Cessna 172. The 727 was flying at 200 mph and at an altitude where the air temperature was -70° F. Coop had no protection against the cold and no helmet and probably landed in a pitch dark forest. There was even a drawback to the parachutes he failed to notice:
“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,” Special Agent Larry Carr said. Carr was leader of the investigative team from 2006 until its dissolution in 2016. “It was simply too risky. He also missed that his reserve ‘chute was only for training, and had been sewn shut—something a skilled skydiver would have checked.”
So, either Coop was some daredevil genius who had it all figured out — or one lousy skydiver whose ‘chute incompetence likely caught up with him.
Click on GIF below for photorealistic simulation of Coop’s jump (thanks to Anybody on Wikipedia for GIF).