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What Do We Know About the Mystery of D. B. Cooper?

Illustrated by Tim Foley
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$6.99 US
5.38"W x 7.63"H x 0.23"D   | 4 oz | 72 per carton
On sale May 07, 2024 | 112 Pages | 978-0-593-66256-4
Age 8-12 years | Grades 3-7
Reading Level: Lexile 930L
Find out what really happened when a strange man hijacked an airplane in 1971 and then parachuted out of it, never to be seen again. What is the truth behind the mystery of the man who came to be known as D. B. Cooper?

On November 24, 1971, an unidentified man hijacked an airplane that was flying from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. He demanded $200,000 and told a flight attendant that he had weapons. After stopping in Seattle, the hijacker was given the money and he released the attendants. But he demanded that the pilots stay on-board, refuel, and fly him to Mexico City. Just thirty minutes after the plane took off, the man jumped out of the aircraft and parachuted away...never to be seen or heard from again. Did he escape with the money? Did he even survive the jump? Over fifty years later, the FBI still does not know what happened to the man they call "D. B. Cooper." Find out what we do know about one of America's most famous, unsolved mysteries in this book for young readers.
Who HQ is your headquarters for history. The Who HQ team is always working to provide simple and clear answers to some of our biggest questions. From Who Was George Washington? to Who Is Michelle Obama?, and What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? to Where Is the Great Barrier Reef?, we strive to give you all the facts. Visit us at WhoHQ.com View titles by Who HQ
What Do We Know About the Mystery of D. B. Cooper?
It was clear and cool in Vancouver, Washington, on February 10, 1980, and the Ingram family decided to go on a picnic. Dwayne and Patricia Ingram drove with their eight-year-old son, Brian, to Tena Bar, a sandbar on the Columbia River where people often fished for salmon. Dwayne told Brian to clear a patch of sand so he could build a fire. He planned to grill some hot dogs.
 
Brian swept his arm across the sand like a broom, smoothing it down. As he did so, his arm bumped against something. He brushed away more sand and pulled out a small blackened bundle. He looked at it closely. It was a stack of twenty--dollar bills! Brian kept digging, and pulled out more money. Then he ran to show the stacked bundles to his parents. They counted the money and found a total of $5,800. The family looked to see if there was any more cash in the sand, but didn’t find any. Still, $5,800 was a lot of money.
 
The Ingrams planned to bring it to their bank and get it changed into new bills. But before they did that, they showed their find to a friend, who told them to bring the bills to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The friend believed that the money could be related to a famous unsolved criminal case.
 
The Ingrams drove to the FBI office in Portland, Oregon, where they met Special Agent Ralph Himmelsbach. He had been working on the case for years and had followed a lot of leads that went nowhere. But he agreed to look at the money Brian had found.
 
Agent Himmelsbach checked each bill’s serial number against a list. (Serial numbers on paper money include the year the bill was printed and a string of other numbers. They can be used to identify a bill.) Slowly, Himmelsbach realized the numbers matched his list! This was some of the money he’d been looking for. It was the first big break in a case that had completely stumped the FBI for almost nine years.
 
Brian Ingram didn’t know it yet, but he had just become part of the story of one of the greatest unsolved crimes in American history. It was a story that had captured the nation’s attention in 1971, and still has a hold on people’s imaginations today. For decades, people have tried to solve this mystery. Many have dedicated their lives to the investigation. But no one has been able to answer the big question at the center of it all:

Who was D. B. Cooper?
 
Chapter 1
Flying the Friendly—and Not-so-Friendly Skies
 
What is called the “jet age” took off in the United States on October 26, 1958, when a Pan American Airways jet flew from New York City to Paris. The jet--engine aircraft was invented in 1939 and had been used by the military for years, but this was the first civilian flight for American ticket--buying passengers. And it changed travel forever. The best propeller--powered planes once took more than twelve hours to fly from the United States to Europe, but the new jets could get there in only seven. Suddenly, the world felt a lot smaller.
 
For most people, the new world of jet travel meant a chance to take an exciting vacation. But for others, it became a way of life. Millionaire business executives, European royalty, and movie stars flew on jets to Paris for some shopping, to Los Angeles a few days later, and then to Hawaii for a beach vacation. No longer did they have to spend five days on a ship to cross the Atlantic. Now they could do it in a few hours. Wealthy people who could easily afford to fly became known as “the jet set.” The early jet--setters were soon joined by a whole new brand of 1960s celebrities—-rock stars, fashion models, and the photographers who captured their extravagant lifestyles on film.
 
Airlines were anxious to win over their newer, less glamorous customers, too. They tried to make flying as special as possible. Passengers drank champagne served by flight attendants in designer uniforms. Comfortable seats provided more legroom to relax than today’s airplanes do. In response, travelers treated flights as if they were going to a fancy restaurant or hotel. Men wore suits and ties. Women wore dresses and gloves.
 
Style wasn’t the only difference between flying then and now. Airplanes and airports had no security. The terminals were set up like large fancy stores. A person could walk up to the counter of a departing flight, buy a ticket with cash, and board the plane. Luggage wasn’t screened by an X--ray machine. There weren’t any bomb-sniffing dogs in airports.
 
Why was there no security? Because no one thought anyone boarding a plane planned to do anything but fly. Everyone was much more worried about flight safety while they were in the air than about their fellow passengers committing any crimes.
 
That all changed on May 1, 1961, when Antulio Ramirez Ortiz held the pilot of a plane bound for Key West, Florida, at knifepoint and demanded that he fly the plane to Cuba. The pilot met Ramirez Ortiz’s demand, flew to Cuba, let Ramirez Ortiz off the plane, and then simply flew back to Florida. When someone illegally takes over any vehicle and forces it to another destination, that’s called “hijacking.”
 
Why “Hijacking”?
 
The origin of the word hijack is unclear. Some people believe that it came from a combination of “highwayman,” the centuries-old British term for thieves who robbed travelers along roads, and “jack,” which can be used to mean “hold up.” Another story says that it came from miners in Missouri in the 1800s, who called the zinc ore they mined “jack.” Miners occasionally slipped some of the “high jack,” or top-quality zinc, into their boots or pockets in order to sell the valuable mineral for extra cash. “High jack” showed up again in the Prohibition-era of the 1920s, when selling alcoholic beverages was illegal, and powerful gangs fought over the business of getting alcohol into the nightclubs and bars that wanted it. “Hijackers” held up the gangs’ trucks as they made deliveries, and stole the illegal alcohol for their own profit. By the mid-twentieth century, it had taken on the meaning people know today: to steal a vehicle (or the goods it carries) directly from its driver (or pilot!).
 
 
When someone takes over a plane, it is often called “skyjacking.” This was the first successful hijacking of an American airplane. But it would not be the last.
 
Several more airplane hijackings took place in 1961. At the time, there were no charges to cover this specific crime! Someone could be charged simply with transporting a stolen airplane across state lines. By 1968, they were happening at an alarming pace. Like Ramirez Ortiz, many hijackers wanted to go to Cuba, a small island nation off the coast of Florida. Some had lost faith in the American way of life. They thought that Cuba, governed by the dictator Fidel Castro, was a country where everyone was treated equally. Hijackers felt that Castro would welcome them like heroes for turning away from their lives in the United States.
 
They were wrong. The people of communist Cuba had very little freedom or opportunities. Castro did not consider the hijackers to be heroes. Instead, he put them in jail or into work camps. And the United States had to pay him for the return of the airplanes.
 
The US Senate met to discuss the hijacking problem. One senator suggested that the airlines put metal detectors in airports to catch people carrying guns or knives. The airlines said no. They thought that would scare passengers. Some travelers might get impatient or annoyed about the invasion of their privacy. Also, the airlines just didn’t want to spend money on security equipment. The airlines decided that they couldn’t stop hijackers. Instead, they focused on making sure no lives were lost. They told flight crews to do whatever hijackers asked of them. They gave their pilots maps of Cuba and lists of useful Spanish phrases.
 
In the first six weeks of 1969, there were eleven skyjackings in the United States. This was a new type of crime wave that began to happen once a week, or sometimes twice in one day!
 
Not all of the skyjackers wanted to go to Cuba, though. When they discovered that airplane crews would do little to stop them, they demanded money instead. Most of them failed in their requests for large sums of cash. They made mistakes and were captured, or ended up surrendering. Except for one.

About

Find out what really happened when a strange man hijacked an airplane in 1971 and then parachuted out of it, never to be seen again. What is the truth behind the mystery of the man who came to be known as D. B. Cooper?

On November 24, 1971, an unidentified man hijacked an airplane that was flying from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington. He demanded $200,000 and told a flight attendant that he had weapons. After stopping in Seattle, the hijacker was given the money and he released the attendants. But he demanded that the pilots stay on-board, refuel, and fly him to Mexico City. Just thirty minutes after the plane took off, the man jumped out of the aircraft and parachuted away...never to be seen or heard from again. Did he escape with the money? Did he even survive the jump? Over fifty years later, the FBI still does not know what happened to the man they call "D. B. Cooper." Find out what we do know about one of America's most famous, unsolved mysteries in this book for young readers.

Author

Who HQ is your headquarters for history. The Who HQ team is always working to provide simple and clear answers to some of our biggest questions. From Who Was George Washington? to Who Is Michelle Obama?, and What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? to Where Is the Great Barrier Reef?, we strive to give you all the facts. Visit us at WhoHQ.com View titles by Who HQ

Excerpt

What Do We Know About the Mystery of D. B. Cooper?
It was clear and cool in Vancouver, Washington, on February 10, 1980, and the Ingram family decided to go on a picnic. Dwayne and Patricia Ingram drove with their eight-year-old son, Brian, to Tena Bar, a sandbar on the Columbia River where people often fished for salmon. Dwayne told Brian to clear a patch of sand so he could build a fire. He planned to grill some hot dogs.
 
Brian swept his arm across the sand like a broom, smoothing it down. As he did so, his arm bumped against something. He brushed away more sand and pulled out a small blackened bundle. He looked at it closely. It was a stack of twenty--dollar bills! Brian kept digging, and pulled out more money. Then he ran to show the stacked bundles to his parents. They counted the money and found a total of $5,800. The family looked to see if there was any more cash in the sand, but didn’t find any. Still, $5,800 was a lot of money.
 
The Ingrams planned to bring it to their bank and get it changed into new bills. But before they did that, they showed their find to a friend, who told them to bring the bills to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The friend believed that the money could be related to a famous unsolved criminal case.
 
The Ingrams drove to the FBI office in Portland, Oregon, where they met Special Agent Ralph Himmelsbach. He had been working on the case for years and had followed a lot of leads that went nowhere. But he agreed to look at the money Brian had found.
 
Agent Himmelsbach checked each bill’s serial number against a list. (Serial numbers on paper money include the year the bill was printed and a string of other numbers. They can be used to identify a bill.) Slowly, Himmelsbach realized the numbers matched his list! This was some of the money he’d been looking for. It was the first big break in a case that had completely stumped the FBI for almost nine years.
 
Brian Ingram didn’t know it yet, but he had just become part of the story of one of the greatest unsolved crimes in American history. It was a story that had captured the nation’s attention in 1971, and still has a hold on people’s imaginations today. For decades, people have tried to solve this mystery. Many have dedicated their lives to the investigation. But no one has been able to answer the big question at the center of it all:

Who was D. B. Cooper?
 
Chapter 1
Flying the Friendly—and Not-so-Friendly Skies
 
What is called the “jet age” took off in the United States on October 26, 1958, when a Pan American Airways jet flew from New York City to Paris. The jet--engine aircraft was invented in 1939 and had been used by the military for years, but this was the first civilian flight for American ticket--buying passengers. And it changed travel forever. The best propeller--powered planes once took more than twelve hours to fly from the United States to Europe, but the new jets could get there in only seven. Suddenly, the world felt a lot smaller.
 
For most people, the new world of jet travel meant a chance to take an exciting vacation. But for others, it became a way of life. Millionaire business executives, European royalty, and movie stars flew on jets to Paris for some shopping, to Los Angeles a few days later, and then to Hawaii for a beach vacation. No longer did they have to spend five days on a ship to cross the Atlantic. Now they could do it in a few hours. Wealthy people who could easily afford to fly became known as “the jet set.” The early jet--setters were soon joined by a whole new brand of 1960s celebrities—-rock stars, fashion models, and the photographers who captured their extravagant lifestyles on film.
 
Airlines were anxious to win over their newer, less glamorous customers, too. They tried to make flying as special as possible. Passengers drank champagne served by flight attendants in designer uniforms. Comfortable seats provided more legroom to relax than today’s airplanes do. In response, travelers treated flights as if they were going to a fancy restaurant or hotel. Men wore suits and ties. Women wore dresses and gloves.
 
Style wasn’t the only difference between flying then and now. Airplanes and airports had no security. The terminals were set up like large fancy stores. A person could walk up to the counter of a departing flight, buy a ticket with cash, and board the plane. Luggage wasn’t screened by an X--ray machine. There weren’t any bomb-sniffing dogs in airports.
 
Why was there no security? Because no one thought anyone boarding a plane planned to do anything but fly. Everyone was much more worried about flight safety while they were in the air than about their fellow passengers committing any crimes.
 
That all changed on May 1, 1961, when Antulio Ramirez Ortiz held the pilot of a plane bound for Key West, Florida, at knifepoint and demanded that he fly the plane to Cuba. The pilot met Ramirez Ortiz’s demand, flew to Cuba, let Ramirez Ortiz off the plane, and then simply flew back to Florida. When someone illegally takes over any vehicle and forces it to another destination, that’s called “hijacking.”
 
Why “Hijacking”?
 
The origin of the word hijack is unclear. Some people believe that it came from a combination of “highwayman,” the centuries-old British term for thieves who robbed travelers along roads, and “jack,” which can be used to mean “hold up.” Another story says that it came from miners in Missouri in the 1800s, who called the zinc ore they mined “jack.” Miners occasionally slipped some of the “high jack,” or top-quality zinc, into their boots or pockets in order to sell the valuable mineral for extra cash. “High jack” showed up again in the Prohibition-era of the 1920s, when selling alcoholic beverages was illegal, and powerful gangs fought over the business of getting alcohol into the nightclubs and bars that wanted it. “Hijackers” held up the gangs’ trucks as they made deliveries, and stole the illegal alcohol for their own profit. By the mid-twentieth century, it had taken on the meaning people know today: to steal a vehicle (or the goods it carries) directly from its driver (or pilot!).
 
 
When someone takes over a plane, it is often called “skyjacking.” This was the first successful hijacking of an American airplane. But it would not be the last.
 
Several more airplane hijackings took place in 1961. At the time, there were no charges to cover this specific crime! Someone could be charged simply with transporting a stolen airplane across state lines. By 1968, they were happening at an alarming pace. Like Ramirez Ortiz, many hijackers wanted to go to Cuba, a small island nation off the coast of Florida. Some had lost faith in the American way of life. They thought that Cuba, governed by the dictator Fidel Castro, was a country where everyone was treated equally. Hijackers felt that Castro would welcome them like heroes for turning away from their lives in the United States.
 
They were wrong. The people of communist Cuba had very little freedom or opportunities. Castro did not consider the hijackers to be heroes. Instead, he put them in jail or into work camps. And the United States had to pay him for the return of the airplanes.
 
The US Senate met to discuss the hijacking problem. One senator suggested that the airlines put metal detectors in airports to catch people carrying guns or knives. The airlines said no. They thought that would scare passengers. Some travelers might get impatient or annoyed about the invasion of their privacy. Also, the airlines just didn’t want to spend money on security equipment. The airlines decided that they couldn’t stop hijackers. Instead, they focused on making sure no lives were lost. They told flight crews to do whatever hijackers asked of them. They gave their pilots maps of Cuba and lists of useful Spanish phrases.
 
In the first six weeks of 1969, there were eleven skyjackings in the United States. This was a new type of crime wave that began to happen once a week, or sometimes twice in one day!
 
Not all of the skyjackers wanted to go to Cuba, though. When they discovered that airplane crews would do little to stop them, they demanded money instead. Most of them failed in their requests for large sums of cash. They made mistakes and were captured, or ended up surrendering. Except for one.