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December 04, 1981 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-12-04

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, December 4, 1981-Page 7

D. B.
SEATTLE (AP)-D. B. Cooper, who
jumped into legend by jumping out of
the back of a jetliner and vanishing
with $200,000, probably was an aging,
baumbling crook with nothing left to
los, says the man who tracked the
myth for a decade.
.Dressed only in a dark business suit,
white :shirt, narrow tie and loafers,
Cooper disappeared literally into thin
air the night of Nov. 24, 1971,
somewhere over - southwest
Washington. He parachuted out the
back of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727
with 10,000 $20 bills in a bank bag strap-
ped to his body.
;AE BECAME the first, and only,
",successful' parachute skyjacker in
American history. His notoriety helped
lead to elaborate airport security
systems and redesigns of the Boeing 727
jetliner so the rear door can't be opened
in flight.
"It's conjecture, but I think he was a
stupid, desperate rascal, a brutal, un-
scruplous man who endangered the
lives o more than 400 people for money
and caused his own death," says Ralph
Himmelsbach, the FBI agent assigned
to the Cooper case before he retired last
year.
"He was very likely an ex-con who
was going to make one last, desperate
go for the big one," the 56-year-old
linmelsbach said. "If he made it fine. If
riot, he probably felt he had very little to
lfse."
H E SAID Cooper bailed out while the
plane was traveling at almost 200 mph
at 10,000 feet, where the temperature
was minus 7 and the wind chill factor a
minus 69 on a raw and stormy night.
Cooper jumped with two
parachutes-an emergency chute in
front that was "by simple, honest
error" defective, and a small sport
chute in back that would land a novice
sky-diver "fast and hard," Him-
melsbach said.
He insisted the FBI did not plot to
sabotage the jump because "we don't
have the right to sentence anyone to
death and what would have happened if
he took a hostage,"
Some people like to think Cooper
lives, such as sponsors of the annual "D.
B. Cooper Festival" in Ariel, a town of
two buildings near where Cooper is
'House of
Bernarda
depresses
(Continued from Page 6)
Eveland as the crazy grandmother,
has all the best lines of the play, but she
delivers them unconvincingly and with
little or no inflection in her voice.
The play was preserved by the
stronger performances of the other four
sisters, played by Maggie Fleming,
Roya L. Meghnot, Ann Zald, and
Margaret D. Gonzales. All four ac-
tresses lend vitality and realism that is
needed in such a sombre. play.
Bickering and pouting, they well por-
tray lonely women whose frustration at
being locked away is beginning to eat
away at their souls. Gonzales as Mar-
tirio is especially powerful in her vin-
dictiveness, and Zald is impressive as
the shy Amelia.
The earthy vitality of La Poncia, the
family's outspoken maid, played by

Helen Oravetz, lends texture to the per-
formance. Sometimes her accent is ob-
structive and she sounds more like
someone's ethnic grandmother than a
middle aged Spanish woman. But
overall, her part is played very well.
One is never drawn into the lives of
these women because of the awkward
stage movements and the sometimes
weak acting. Still, the production was
fairly successful in creating an aura of
tragedy and entrapment. If one wants
light hearted entertainment, then it is
best to avoid "The House of Bernarda
Alba." But if one is more in the mood
'for intense, if perhaps self-consciously
tragic drama, the play is worth seeing.
"The House of Bernarda Alba" runs
through December 5, then continues the
run from December 10-12.

Cooper legend lives

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'It's conjecture,

stupid,

desperate

but I think he was a
rascal, a brutal, un-
who endangered .the

scrupulous man

lives of more than 400 people for
money and caused his own death.'
-FBI agent Ralph Himmelsbach

thought to have jumped. Once a year
hundreds of people crowd into the Ariel
Store and Tavern to buy T-shirts, swill
beer and trade Cooper theories.
"I think he got away because they
didn't find anything but the money and
who's to. say he didn't drop it to lead
them off the trail," says Laural Fisher,
who owns the store-tavern with her
husband, Dave, president of the D. B.
Cooper Fan Club.
Who's to say, indeed?
After 10 years of searching, "We
know 1,000 people who he isn't and 1,000
places where he didn't land," says
Dave Hill, FBI spokesman in Seattle.
THE FBI FEELS Cooper's skeleton
lies crumpled in the thick forests of
southwest Washington. Conceivably,
agents say, Cooper is buried under tons
of volcanic ash because 150 square
miles of the search area was coated by
Mount St. Helens' eruption last year.

But no one can prove Cooper isn't
living a smug life of anonymity
somewhere, enjoying the profits of his
air piracy.
The case remains the FBI's only
major unsolved skyjacking-and his
disappearing act is celebrated in
twangy songs, T-shirts, an annual
celebration in the tiny town of Ariel,
Wash., and a new movie.
TO PUBLICIZE the movie, The
Pursuit of D. B. Cooper, Universal
Studios offered $1 million for infor-
mation leading to the arrest and convic-
tion of Cooper, who's name probably
wasn't even Cooper. The studio still has
the money.
His start as a folk hero began when a
"Dan Cooper" bought a one-way ticket
on Northwest Airlines Flight 305 from
Portland, Ore., to Seattle.
Moments after takeoff, Cooper han-
ded a flight attendant a hand-written

note, announcing the skyjacking and
demanding $200,000 and four
parachutes. He also opened his brief-
case and showed her what she later said
looked like a bomb.
INSTRUCTIONS WERE radioed to
the ground and, while the plane circled
Seattle-Tacoma Airport, money and
parachutes were rounded up. Cooper
chain smoked filter-tipped cigarettes
and bought and sipped two bourbon and
water highballs during the
negotiations.
In Seattle, the 36 passengers and two
flight attendants got off, while one
flight attendant and three cockpit crew
members stayed aboard. Cooper
became fidgety' as refueling took too
long and told the flight attendant,
"Let's get this circus on the road."
The plane took off for Reno, Nev., at
7:37 p.m., while a storm raged outside.
Cooper was alone in the passenger sec-
tion and the crew remained in the cock-
pit. At 8:11 p.m., the crew noticed a
drop in cabin pressure, indicating the
plane's rear door was opened.
FBI AGENTS who scrambled aboard
in Reno found no trace of Cooper-and a
legend was born.
In February 1980, an 8-year-old boy
picnicking with his family along the
Columbia River west of Vancouver,
Wash., unearthed packets of rotting $20
bills from the sand, which turned out to
be $5,800 of Cooper's loot.
A hunter on a road near Castle Rock
found a placard which wind had ripped
from the wall of the plane's stairwell
when Cooper jumped, Himmelsbach
said.

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