The Mystery of D.B. Cooper Adds Another Suspect to a List Which Never Landed

The most famous but least known hijacker in history gets a stylish once-over as HBO solves The Mystery of D.B. Cooper.

The Mystery of DB Cooper
Photo: HBO

On Nov. 24, 1971, night before Thanksgiving, a man identified as Dan Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient Boeing 727 flight bound for Seattle. He told the pilots to circle around a few times before he parachuted out with $200,000, never to be heard from again. A team of 40 FBI agents, criminologists, journalists, and attorneys worked the case for decades. In 1972, 15 copycat hijackings were pulled. The last D.B. Cooper wannabe hijacked a plane on July 11, 1980. He demanded $600,000, two parachutes, and the assassination of his boss. A stewardess gave him a valium and he settled for three cheeseburgers. In 1981, Treat Williams played the elusive criminal in The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper. The FBI officially closed the case in 2016, citing a lack of strong leads.

But filmmaker John Dower (Thrilla in Manila, My Scientology Movie) will launch an investigation into the only unsolved airplane hijacking in U.S. history almost 50 years after the disappearing act. The Mystery of D.B. Cooper will be available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max on Nov. 25.

The film “brings to life the stories of four individuals fervently believed by their family and friends to be the mystery man who hijacked a 727 flying out of Portland, OR, traded the passengers’ lives for $200,000 and four parachutes, leapt from 10,000 feet over some of Washington State’s roughest terrain, and was never heard from again,” reads the press statement.

The Mystery of D.B. Cooper will mix archival footage, acted scene recreations and exclusive interviews with people who are directly connected to the case and its likeliest culprits. The documentary will also explore the copycat hijackings which turned Cooper’s story into folklore.

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The film is the second in a collection of five crime-focused documentary films which will premiere on Wednesdays. The films series will begin Nov. 18 with Crazy, Not Insane, the profile of a pioneering forensic psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, who studied some of the most notorious serial killers. The documentary was directed by Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney. The film series promises to go “beyond the sensational headlines to explore the human toll on all sides of a crime and delve deep into the internal and external worlds of perpetrators, victims, and survivors,” according to the press statement.

The anthology series will include “a shocking examination into Las Vegas fertility specialist, Dr. Quincy Fortier” in Baby God, which premieres on Dec. 2; Alabama Snake, which tells the “haunting tale of an attempted murder by a religious snake handler,” and premieres Dec. 9; and “the search for justice in the aftermath of a bishop and human rights activist’s murder in Guatemala” in The Art of Political Murder, which airs Dec. 16.The Mystery of D.B. Cooper debuts Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. on HBO.