The Unsolved Mystery of D.B. Cooper

Categories: Informative Speech

General Goal: To inform my audience about D.B. Cooper

Specific Goal: To inform my audience who D.B. Cooper is and what he did when he hijacked the plane

Thesis: My goal from this speech is to inform my audience who D.B. Cooper is, what happened on the plane, and what the FBI did to investigate this unsolved mystery.

I. Introduction:

What if I told you almost 1.5 million dollars went missing while someone hijacked a plane? Yet the FBI couldn’t find who did it.

Well, guess what, that actually happened in 1971 (Pasternak 72). I first heard about this case when I was binge watching mystery documentaries. I’ve always found mysteries interesting and that’s why I chose this one. So, you’re probably wondering what happened when the plane was hijacked or how the FBI let this happen. Today I’m going to tell you who D.B. Cooper is, what happened on the plane, and what the FBI did to investigate the only US hijacking that has never been solved.

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Now, let’s begin with who the hijacker is.

II. D.B. Cooper is a man in his mid 40s that hijacked a plane in 1971 and stole ransom money.

  1. According to Sean Potter’s periodical from 2011, this day in history was the day before thanksgiving. On that rainy afternoon, a man bought a one-way ticket from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. The flight was only supposed to be 30 minutes long.
  2. In line with Potter’s periodical, Douglas Pasternak from the U.

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    S. News and World Report says the FBI described the man as mid 40s, 6 feet tall, around 170 pounds with black hair.

  3. As reported in Jonathan Fink’s “The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper,” This man identified himself as Dan Cooper.
  4. This information was misheard between reporters which lead to the hijacker being referred to as D.B. Cooper ever since. (Potter 11)
  5. Transition to second point: Now that you know about the hijacker, we can discuss what happened aboard the plane.

III. What happened aboard the plane when D.B. hijacked it was all but normal.

  • According to the Fink’s academic journal, once he boarded the plane, he handed a stewardess a note that she put into her purse without reading. He then leaned in closer and said “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.” Obviously, she was quick to open the note after that (178).
  1. Apparently, the note read in capital letters “I HAVE A BOMB IN MY BREIFCASE. I WILL USE IT IF NECESSARY. I WANT YOU TO SIT NEXT TO ME. YOU ARE BEING HIJACKED,” (Jonsson 1)
  2. Next, He opened the case showing her wires, dynamite, and batteries. He told her there was to be no funny stuff at any time, or he would detonate the bomb (Fink 178)
  3. Pasternak says, he later went on to demand $200,000 in unmarked US bills, 4 parachutes and insisted on refueling the lane after Seattle (72).
  4. Because of inflation, the 1971 ransom is equal to $1.2 million in 2018 currency (Calculated online).
  • According to Fink, the stewardess alerted the pilots and at no point where the passengers informed of the hijacking. They continued doing flight attendant responsibilities while Cooper proceeded to order a bourbon and acted calm (179).
  • Fink also reported that after 2 hours in the air, they landed in Seattle. Cooper exchanged 36 passengers for the ransom and only allowed the crew to stay aboard the plane with him. Then he claimed his next stop was Mexico City (180).
  • About 30 minutes later, somewhere over Washington, he told all the crew to remain in the cockpit. They did as they were told and the next thing they knew, he jumped off the plane into the cold night with the ransom and parachutes (Fink 181).
  • Transition to third point: We’ve heard about the night of November 24th, now let’s examine the investigation afterwards.

IV. It’s been over 45 years since D.B. Cooper jumped out of a plane and has never been heard from since. (Peter Holley)

  1. According to the Official US Parachute Association (OUPA), “this case remains the only unsolved hijacking in the world” (Farnsworth).
  2. OUPA also reports that after all the years of investigation, the FBI has conducted extensive searches in the Washington forests, lakes, and rivers. (Farnsworth).
  3. Among the evidence on board, Farnsworth states that Cooper left behind a reserve canopy, container, and a clip-on tie on the plane. And almost $6,000 was found along a Washington River that belonged to Cooper. (Farnsworth).
  4. Not to mention, FBI agents recovered 66 unidentified fingerprints (“D. B. Cooper”).
  5. As modern technology is changing, it is easier for the FBI to eliminate possible suspects and leads. After all, there were over 1,000 suspects. Yet, 50 years later this case is still open and active today (“D. B. Cooper”).
  6. Farnsworth from the OUSPA says that because of the Hobbs Act, statute of limitations doesn’t apply and if D.B. Cooper is found he can still be charged with felony (Farnsworth).
  7. Transition to Conclusion: With the lack of evidence and real leads, the FBI’s search rests open today.

As it currently stands, the case of D.B. Cooper’s hijacking on November 24th, 1971, remains unsolved. After the 40 lives he put in danger and nearly $1.5 million dollars computed from 1971 that he stole (The Washington Post), no one has any idea where DB Cooper went. Identifying the characteristics and facts about this case will hopefully help someday solve this unique mystery. You be the judge, did D.B. Cooper make the jump? Or did he parachute to his death?


  • “D. B. Cooper.” OMICS International, OMICS Group,
  • Farnsworth, Musika. “The Secrets of D.B. Cooper, Part Two – Evidence of Absence.” United States Parachute Association, United States Parachute Association, 12 Apr. 2018,
  • Fink, Jonathan. “The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper.” Witness, vol. 27, no. 1, Mar 2014. Pp. 175-193. EBSCOhost,
  • Holley, Peter. “The D.B. Cooper Case Has Baffled the FBI for 45 Years. Now It May Never Be Solved.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 12 July 2016,
  • Jonsson, Patrik. “D.B. Cooper Mystery: FBI Claims ‘Most Promising Lead’ in Legendary Hijacking.” Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 2011. P. N.PAG. EBSCOhost,
  • Pasternak, Douglas. “Skyjacker at Large.” U.S. News & World Report, vol. 129, no. 4, July 2000, p. 72. EBSCOhost,
  • Potter, Sean. “Retrospect: November 24, 1971: The Mysterious Case of D.B. Cooper.” Weatherwise, vol. 64, no. 6, Nov. 2011, p. 10. EBSCOhost,

Cite this page

The Unsolved Mystery of D.B. Cooper. (2021, Aug 18). Retrieved from

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