This is not the first time D.B. Cooper-mania has swept the country. The legendary figure who parachuted from a hijacked plane over the state of Washington 40 years ago this November has been lodged in the American psyche ever since. His caper has inspired a feature film, a novel, myriad true crime accounts and television reenactments, and lots of amateur treasure-hunters. On Saturday, the Telegraph reported that the FBI, still riding high after arresting Whitey Bulger earlier this summer, had gotten a new lead on the mystery, though the bureau was tight-lipped as to exactly what that was. By Monday, more details began to trickle out about a new suspect, dead for 10 years, who hadn't been named before in the case, either by the FBI or as one of the thousands who have claimed credit for the crime over the last four decades.
Cooper's myth has all the irresistible elements--a well-dressed daredevil, a missing treasure, an unsolved mystery. The suspect, who actually called himself Dan Cooper, wore a tie and carried a briefcase when he bought a ticket from Portland to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971. Once the plane was in the air, he ordered a whiskey, lit a cigarette, and handed a note to the flight attendant: "I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked." Cooper demanded $200,000 in $20 bills, and four parachutes to be delivered when the plane landed in Seattle, holding the passengers hostage. After the delivery, and refueling, he released the passengers and demanded to be taken to Mexico, but after the plane got airborne, he jumped out of the rear door somewhere over the Cascade mountains, the $200,000 strapped to his torso. He was never seen again.