By: James Barret (History ’17)
For my final paper in ‘HIST 344: America’s Most Wanted’ taught by Professor Greenberg (a course that all history majors should take), I will be writing about D.B Cooper’s infamous hijacking of Northwest Airlines flight 305 and extortion of $200,000. Although the Cooper case has many different elements, one that I will likely not be able to address in my paper due to the parameters of the assignment is the aftermath of the hijacking. The way I see it, the general public’s fascination with Cooper comes down to two major questions: Who was this man? And perhaps more importantly, did he survive his skydive into a cold rainy night somewhere in the woods north of Portland, Oregon? I will certainly work to answer these questions, or at the very least put together a guess in the final paper. But a third question has been bugging me lately and it is much more abstract. What exactly does the world gain from a story like Cooper’s? And furthermore, what would happen if there became definitive proof as to who this man was and what happened to him? Similar questions have been asked before, specifically by The New York Times Geoffrey Gray. Gray and I reach similar conclusions but differ slightly, I see Cooper as interesting because all the options are still on the table. Gray believes that Cooper enthusiasts will lose their drive if they know what all went down.