DB Cooper – 42nd Anniversary celebrations include symposium in Tacoma and annual bash in Ariel

By Bruce A. Smith

 The famous DB Cooper skyjacking occurred 42 years ago this Thanksgiving Day weekend, and the occasion was commemorated by a professional symposium at the Washington State Historical Museum in Tacoma. The WSHM is currently hosting their COOPER exhibit on the hijacking, which will continue until January 4, 2014.

 In addition, DB Cooper fans also gathered at the Ariel Tavern in Ariel, Washington, the ground-zero for the FBI’s ground search for the notorious Cooper, and now a shrine to the “man who beat the system.”

 The following is my report on these events, and first reported on the DB Cooper chat room at the DropZone web site



 The COOPER Symposium got off to a fine start this Friday at the Washington State Historical Museum as Geoffrey Gray, author of Skyjack – The Hunt for DB Cooper, opened the festivities and delivered a substantive overview of the case, and shared new findings from the FBI files.

 However, I arrived before Gray spoke, and had my own DB Cooper encounter while waiting.

 As I entered the museum I spied Geoffrey, looking sharp in a wool tweed jacket and mauve sweater, as he was signing his Skyjack books in the rotunda of the WSHM, which is the old train station in downtown, Tacoma.

 But on the other side of the large, domed room, a small band of Cooper Landsmen were waiting for me – Meyer Louie, Mark Bennett, Doug Kenck-Crispin, and a couple new faces, which turned out to be Robin and Bradley Collins. Bradley has recently arisen on the DB Cooper radar screen with his proclamation that his father was DB Cooper, and Bradley has just published a book with that title.

 Brad and I got to talking straightaway, and it didn’t go well. I was a bit flippant, as in “So, you dad was DB Cooper, eh? Got any concrete proof? A twenty perhaps?”

 Brad, it turns out is a delicate lad, and is not adept at sparring with journalistic ruffians.

 Nevertheless, we sat down and I tried to make amends. But soon I asked Brad for proof again, and at every turn he said, “Read my book.”

 “Okay,” I replied, “but in the meantime can you tell me how you know your father was DB Cooper.

 Brad then launched a scripted speech on his uncle being a 727 Captain with Northwest Orient, and how Uncle Bud was very close with Jack Collins, Brad’s father.

 “Yes, Brad, but what does this have to do with DB Cooper?”

 A few more questions like that and soon Brad was standing and saying, “I don’t think I want to do this, and walked away.

 Brad left the building and Robin sat down and tried to patch things up with me, the “newspaper reporter.” She failed. I told her that Brad had to be ready for tough questions like the ones I was asking if he wants to go out in the world and proclaim himself the Son of DB Cooper. She agreed, then left herself.

 Mark and Doug then walked over and together we commiserated on our joint encounter with the Cooper Vortex. Brad is “100% convinced” that his father, Jack Collins, is DB Cooper, and I am 100% convinced that he does as well. But, he seems to be another guy in Cooper World with lots of hopes and wishes and zero proof.

 By then, it was time to follow Geoffrey into the conference room and hear his talk. About sixty people were gathered around a dozen large round tables, and GG made the rounds, introducing himself and joking with his local PNW Cooper sleuths gathered in the back as we flashied our fangs and notebooks – me, Meyer, Mark, Doug, and Vicki Wilson just joining us from her home in Minnesota.

 Susan Rohrer of the WSHM introduced Geoff, who framed an interesting angle for the Cooper talk – “The Individualist.” I thought it was a good approach, but it went a little long on the temper of the times and social unrest, but when he started showing actual slides from the FBI files we all perked-up.

 I’m never sure what I will learn at these kinds of gatherings, but I’ve come to understand that I always get a few tidbits.

 First off, Geoff showed us pix that revealed that Row 18 did not have any windows! Sniper-proof, so to speak.

 Geoff also revealed what FBI files gave him the info on the marcelled hair and russet suit: their statements from passenger Robert Gregory.

 The FBI files says that Gregory was sitting in Cooper’s row and “across from the skyjacker,” or words to that effect.

 In true Cooper World fashion, a family member who knew “Uncle Bob,” was there to expand on Gregory’s testimony, and add that Robert Gregory died in 2002 in Sun City, Arizona.

 The Gregory files state the following: DB Cooper was 35, about 165 pounds and about 5’9”.  He was swarthy, with jet black marcelled hair, with a greasy, patent leather sheen.  The skyjacker was possibly a Mexican-American or had some “Native Indian” heritage. That  is in stark contrast to the generally agreed description of 6-6’1″, 175, and 45-50 years-old.

Gregory also claimed the skyjacker wore “very dark, horn rimmed sun glasses. Plus, his suit was a reddish-brown, russet color with wide lapels.

 Neither Geoffrey nor the Gregory family member could say exactly where Robert Gregory sat on the plane, but GG stressed that Gregory was the owner of a paint shop and had a very fine eye for details and colors.

 However, my repeated attempts through the weekend were unsuccessful to verify where Mr. Gregory sat on the plane and how valid his descriptions were.

 Geoff also delved into the Sky Chef matchbook cover issue, and we pondered whether DB Cooper had eaten in a Sky Chef restaurant, or had flown a previous flight that had been catered by Sky Chef.  Mark Bennett also announced that he had formerly worked at American Airlines, and he said the American owned Sky Chef in 1971, and that they owned restaurants and ran on-board catering.

 Perhaps the most important information I heard was that Geoffrey characterized Tina as being in shock during the skyjacking. Specifically, when Tina came down the air stairs to retrieve the money and parachutes, Al Lee spoke to her and she never responded to him.  Apparently, Lee took that to mean she was unable to do so because of her emotional state.

 But this characterization is sharply different to other descriptions of Tina as a highly capable stewardess, such as those from the pilot, Bill Rataczak, and even Geoffrey’s own commentary in Skyjack that reveals that Tina sat next to Cooper for hours, joked with him, and lit his cigarettes when he had his hand on the bomb.

 Also, in a discussion of the titanium found on the tie, Geoff said that the clip on the tie was painted white, and he wondered if the paint had any titanium in it.

 At the end of the talk, Robb Heady, a Cooper copycat skyjacker who I had interviewed a year ago, joined us and we headed to the Swiss Tavern, where Super Sleuth Galen Cook used to hang out when he was studying law at the UW-Tacoma.

 We had a fine time, and after gentle prodding Robb told his story. He also agreed to speak a bit tomorrow at the symposium, addressing the physical and technical aspects of the jump.

 Geoff also invited me to sit on the panel discussion, and I’ll be talking about the FBI – the good the bad and the ugly – lost cigarette butts, bungled evidence retrieval in Reno, and their difficulty in administering a complex case through the jurisdictions of Seattle/Portland/Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

 Now for some DZ gossip! Doug bet me and Meyer that the cantankerous Robert M. Blevins will show up. I said no, and put a buck down, as did Meyer. I won.

 Nevertheless, Bob Sailshaw and the Formans are coming tomorrow, and Geoff announced that the last time he saw Sail he had to “break up a fight” between Sail and Blevs, so we’re all looking forward to that re-enactment, since Geoffrey is wearing such classy clothes.

 Doug also brought the lovely Melissa, but introduced her as her intern, again! That girl has been an intern for three or four years – she’s gonna get a pension at this rate.

 Meyer’s going to sing with the band, too, but his right eye is really screwed up since his retina detached.  He had an operation back home in Canada, a month or so ago, and may be moving back there to the rez to be close to family and his Canadian medical care.

 Vicki brought lots o’ pix of Mel, and we’re tracking down Bill Mitchell for a look-see. I figure that might happen Monday morning before she hops on a plane for the Minnie Apple.

 For those new to the case, Mel Wilson is a DB Cooper suspect, as he vanished from his Minnesotan home on September 15, 1971, and has a fair resemblance to the drawings of the skyjacker, particularly Composite A, the first one developed by the FBI.

 Symposium, Friday and Saturday, 2013, 12. 2. 13

 Going back to Friday night, about ten of us went to the Swiss Tavern, one block south of the WSHM and UP THE HILL! Finally Robb Heady and I had a quiet moment to say hello and get a read on how public he wanted to be with his skyjacking past. Robb looked a little overwhelmed with a blank look on his face, but as we talked he brightened and seemed reassured that I was fine with him saying any and all that he chose to disclose. I was a bit surprised but honored that he was concerned about spilling my scoop on his story, or that any thing he might say would take away from the impact of my book. I assured him that I had utmost confidence in the power of my story, and that the evening – and the weekend – was his to find the most comfortable spot for him to be.

I told him that I thought he had a very special story to tell, and that so far everyone that I knew, such as Mark Metzler, Georger, Sail and the Cooper crew around Puget Sound were very respectful of him, his story, and his awareness of how he came to skyjack a plane in 1972. I felt proud of our Cooper gang and their level of maturity and compassion. I think Robb took that to heart.

Soon, we were joined at a row of tables by Geoff Gray, Doug Kenck-Crispin and Meyer Louie. I’ve got to say that when they joined us, it was one of the finest moments in my Cooper experience. Everyone told Robb that they wanted to hear his story, to whatever degree that he could tell it. Geoff and Doug, the organizers of the symposium, also said that they would like him to join the panel discussion at the end of the gathering on Saturday. The level of respect and sensitivity was beautiful.

Robb mulled the invitation and in the course of the evening the request got refined and more defined, and he eventually agreed to a format where he and I would join Geoff on stage and GG would interview us together. It seemed liked an ideal plan, and it worked superbly.

Further down the table, but far enough away to form their own little circle was Mark Bennett, Vicki Wilson, Doug’s Kick-Ass Oregon History crew, such as Melissa the Super Intern and a couple other student-looking types from Portland. I think a couple folks from the WSHM also stopped by along with a familiar face or two from GG’s talk in the afternoon.

But my little group covered a wide range of topics. Robb expanded on the actual mechanics of his jump, and I realized the whole process of jumping from a 727 is much more complex than anyone has ever discussed before.

Robb said that if DB Cooper was a skilled skydiver, such as he was, he would be best served if he jumped like Robb: jump from the bottom step, arch your way through the tumble as you encountered the slip-stream – and Robb said his 727 was probably going at 350 mph, so the whole notion of using Cooper metrics (slow the plane to 175 mph, lower the landing gear, wings flaps at 15 degrees) didn’t seem so important.

Robb stressed that once you stabilize, you will soon be moving at terminal velocity – about 120 mph – which makes the whole issue of too much stress on parachutes to be mute. Robb jumped with a 24-foot reserve chute that had a round canopy. He wore it under clothes and the flight crew never saw it.

When he jumped, he knew the pilots weren’t following his flight plan and he was far from his intended LZ, so he had to dive toward Washoe Lake and his car and went into a tuck that reached about 220 mph, he estimated. He got to the edge of Washoe Lake, but the western shore and not the eastern one where his car was parked.

Robb pulled at 1,000 feet above the ground as he saw it rush up. He had no goggles and seemed surprised that we asked.

He got really hammered when the chute opened, and since he was so close to the ground he had only about 5 seconds before he hit, too soon to get his bearings.

As it turned out he landed on a highway near the lake shore. Since he was using a reserve and it was sitting on his abdomen, the risers were in front of him and not behind, so he was leaning a little backwards when he hit the ground. As a result he was a little off balance and he fell backwards hard, banging his elbow. The hard landing made it hard to walk, too.

He estimated that he was about two miles away from his car, but it took about six hours to walk there through the woods and not be detected.

He could see the search lights of the cops and he knew he was surrounded and that his gig was up. He was a bit surprised that so many cops showed up so fast since he jumped about ten minutes after take-off.

“They would have gotten me anyway,” Robb said, “even if I had been able to get to my car and drive away. They had road blocks up right away, and they would have interviewed all the skydivers in the area, and my name would have come right up. Then they would have asked me where I was, what I was doing that night, and who could corroborate my alibi. I’m sure they would have found a gap in my story right away. I think most hijackers are like that – they don’t think the whole thing through.”

Robb also said that he spent about three weeks planning his hijacking. He also expanded on his motivations. What I heard was that his world view changed radically because of his experiences in Vietnam, and that he felt that all fortunes were made by “committing some crime.” He continued and said that if you didn’t have any money – if you hadn’t made your fortune – then you were a loser and a victim of those who do have great wealth and make the laws, hire the police, form armies and invade countries. So, for Robb, the hijacking was just my way of “getting mine.” Getting $200,000 was a good deal compared to robbing a bank and getting eight thousand.

“I don’t feel that way anymore, though,” he told us, and Robb seemed world-weary when he shared these insights.

Robb also told us how his life was after serving six years in Lompoc prison. He got a CPA degree, but found it difficult to make a career in the field because of his criminal background. As a result, he formed a business and now owns a parking lot cleaning company and runs two trucks and crew.

Our circle listened attentively and respectfully. It was one of our finest moments.

In addition, Geoff was exceptionally courteous to me, which I valued. I didn’t know how he would receive me with my many words of concern about his behaviors with the FBI in August 2011- the timing of his book, the Marla flap, and his special access to FBI files.

Moving along, Doug surprised me by announcing that he still corresponds with Marla and said that The Blonde One has written her book, which is titled DB’s Niece – The Hijacked Heart in my Head, according to Vicki, who checks in with Marla at Facebook. However, it is not in print currently. Maybe soon, though.

Doug also said that Marla has a new guy in her life and he is subsidizing her writing and marketing efforts. Doug also said that TBO is developing contacts in Hollywood and that her story may be heading to the screen.

Speaking of Hollywood, earlier at his talk, Geoff had told us that Skyjack has been optioned by CBS for a movie, but he has no idea with how it is going and has only spoken to the scriptwriter once.

“He’s a nice guy, though,” Geoff told us.


The opening workshops on Saturday were atrocious, but very telling about what is really going on at the WSHM.

Gwen Whiting opened the festivities and appeared lost and confused. Plus, I found her casual dress unprofessional for a symposium. But her remarks were even worse. She basically delivered a book report on The Skies Belong to Us – Love and Tragedy in the Golden Age of Skyjacking, which I enjoyed when I read it, but it is not central to Norjak.

Gwen has a master’s degree in military history and it showed. She was utterly oblivious to why people were in her audience and what they wanted to hear. No one wanted to hear about the history of airline safety or inconsequential skyjackings in 1955. Rather, everyone wanted to hear the inside scoop on DB Cooper – they wanted the Beef of the Case, sink their teeth into new facts, and get closer to solving it.

But Gwen was undeterred.

And that obtuse perspective is the hallmark of the COOPER exhibit at the WSHM. It doesn’t touch anything controversial and seemingly only presents information that is sanctioned by the FBI.

As bad as Gwen was, Doug Kenck-Crispin was ten times worse. He gave a stand-up comedy routine on Sir Walter Raleigh, the namesake of the cigarettes smoked by DB Cooper aboard Flight 305.

 Most disappointingly, Doug failed to mention that Raleighs were a status symbol of Airborne troops in WW II because of a fascinating dynamic in military supply distribution.

Cigarettes were given free to all troops in large quantities by the manufacturers, and the Navy personnel who shipped them to theaters of war got first pick. They took Camels.

Then, the Army drivers who drove the freight trucks to regional distribution warehouses near the front took the Lucky Strikes.

Locals invariably got their hands in there at this point, snagged the Pall Malls, and by the time cigarettes made their way to the front lines, where the best troops were positioned, such as the 101st Airborne Division, all that was left were the cheap, stinky Raleighs. Thus, the dregs of the tobacco industry became an identifying icon for airborne troopers, just like bloused trousers.

Robb confirmed this characterization in private talks, and it has been told sublimely in the book, Band of Brothers, the story of Company C of the 101st Airborne during WW II.

Doug was clueless, though, and his hamming bluster from the stage was offensive.

When Kenck-Crispin finished, Sailshaw was so upset he was choking. I thought he was about to have a stroke. Fortunately his wife was sitting next to him, and calmed him a bit.

 To further relieve his distress, and everyone’s outrage over the stupidity of the previous two hours, I assured our little circle of Meyer, Sail, Sails’ wife, Vicki and a few others that they just had a personal experience of being part of a spin job, and that the tragically lame presentations were probably a purposeful effort from the Powers That Be to tamp down interest in the DB Cooper case. After sitting through the first half of the symposium, no one in the audience would want to confront the King Country Sheriff’s Office on the current status of the Earl Cossey homicide, or ask anyone at WSHM why they never mentioned Coss’ murder in their COOPER exhibit. An oversight? Hardly. Intentional? I think so, but since no one at the WSHM talks to me maybe someone else should discuss the Cossey issue with them.

Maybe the next time Doug talks about cigarettes he will simply say that the fact that Cooper smoked Raleighs may mean that he was a seasoned trooper of the 82nd or 101st Airborne.

After the debacle of the first half, we went to see a Cooper re-enactor.

He was terrible, and didn’t care much about America’s only unsolved skyjacking. He didn’t even shave his beard for his 20-minute presentation, held on the aft stairs in the exhibit. Our Cooper crew should have dragged him into the bathroom and shaved him clean. He should also lose about thirty pounds, as he was far above Cooper’s 175. He should also read a book about DB Cooper and learn the interesting details on his character, such as some of Cooper’s idiosyncratic lingo – “No Funny Stuff or I’ll do the job.”

After a lovely indoor picnic provided by Meyer, we headed back for panel discussions. First up were two very experienced skydivers from I-Fly of Tukwila.

The first to speak was John Mitchell, who learned how to skydive in Salt Lake City. He pursued that lead and talked mostly about Richard McCoy, who was a Cooper copycat and long thought to be DB Cooper doing a second hijacking over the skies of Provo, Utah.  Nevertheless, I was disappointed as I was hoping for a more detailed analysis of DB Cooper and his jump.

Nevertheless, it was good to hear confirmation that McCoy had about 40 jumps under his belt before he hijacked his plane in April 1972. Even though Mitchell had personal knowledge of McCoy, most of us in the audience knew more about the McCoy skyjack than he did. Sail was really worked up with this further disappointment and really hammered the skydivers with questions about pull-offs from the stairs.

However. Robb loved having kindred spirits in the auditorium and beamed.

Next up was Rick Mangan, who struck closer to home and said that he skydived at Issaquah and knew Earl Cossey. However, he overstated the nature of his relationship with Coss, and when I questioned him about Cossey pronouncements of owning the chutes and the NB-6- slash – NB-8 controversy where Cossey has vacillated for forty years on exactly which type of parachute he purportedly gave the skyjacker, Mangan appeared flustered.

However, they had an NB-6 with them and showed us the little pouch that the rip cord handle fits into, and it showed the ludicrous nature of Cossey’s comments to me that his modification to the NB-8 that Cooper used would have a rip cord too hidden for a whuffo like DBC to successfully find the rip cord handle.

 Mangan and Mitchell also confirmed that many skydivers have jumped naked from altitudes of at least 14,000 feet, so the notion of jumping in November in freezing temps from 10,000 is not too extreme.

They also talked about waiting until terminal velocity and then pulling was preferable to pulling-off the aft stairs and entering the slip stream at 200 mph.

Then it was show time for Robb and me. Robb was superb, and Geoff was the exquisite host. Robb spoke for about 20 minutes and the room was as still as choir basement at midnight. He gave a synopsis of all that he has shared before, plus a detailed assessment of PTSD and the dynamics of his time in Vietnam, including the callous treatment he received from his command when he suffered a bout of malaria and had a critical loss of red blood cells.

As for yours truly, Geoff asked me to speak about a range of topics and we covered some great stuff – where is the case going, the money find, and the flight path.

I had a great time and am very grateful to Geoff for inviting me to speak in such a public venue.

Afterwards, it was off to Ariel.

 On the way, Robb Heady drove Vicki and me down in little cute red rental. Robb and I were gabbing the whole way

Robb is a huge baseball fan, heading down to Arizona from his home in the central Rocky Mountains for a few pre-season games, and then in the season heading over to Coors Field in Denver for the Rockies vs. Anybody.

 I was surprised to find out that the Rockies are like the Mariners in Seattle- a magnet team that attracts lots of baseball fans who don’t necessarily root for the home team.

 “Yeah, when the Cardinals are in town, the stands are filled with red hats – the same when the Cubs are playing,” Robb said.

 “’Cept then, the hats are blue,” I chided.

 Robb and I are also huge fans of the Jack Reacher novels, although we can’t remember any of the titles. He loved my story of attending a book signing by the Reacher author, Lee Child, and how I was out-numbered by female Reacher fans who told me that they wanted more sex scenes in the book, which I was happy to pass on to Child during the Q & A, adding that the gals around me were too chicken to tell him themselves…

 Vicki was in the back seat and was busy with her electronic devices, giving us updates from the DZ on her smart phone and looking for Cooper super witness, Bill Mitchell.

 Before we left Tacoma, I was able to weasel Mitchell’s name from Geoff, but it turned out the phone was disconnected. Also, the staff at the WSHM refused to intercede for Vicki in helping her get to Bill, so that he could see what Mel looked like.

 Cooper sleuth Jerry Thomas is a big proponent of Mel, and JT talks up Mel Wilson in many Cooper places. In fact, Vicki told me she got a phone call from Special Agent Curtis Eng based upon prodding from JT, so the boy has some influence at the Seattle FBI.

 I was also surprised to find out from Vicki that the federal law enforcement apparatus has a very large division helping folks like Vicki find their missing loved ones. Not surprisingly, Vicki told me that her federal case agent gets the much run-around from her supposed colleagues in other law enforcement agencies. Sad but true. The FBI won’t even talk to the FBI liaison at Vicki’s DOJ division.

 A few miles from Ariel we stopped at our bed and breakfast, the Lewis River B & B, which is a superb place to stay. Barb and Darrell are great hosts and poured us a bottle of fine Cabernet and we chatted for a bout an hour with the Formans, who are authors of The Legend of DB Cooper – Death from Natural Causes, and live in South Hill, WA. They had just arrived before us.

 Around 6 pm we headed up to the tavern and found the Tacoma gang anchoring one end of the bar – Meyer, Doug, Mark Bennett, and the whole Oregon History Kick-Ass crew. Of course we joined them, and within seconds the beer joined the wine in my innards.  Already ecstatic from getting stage time in Tacoma and buzzed from non-stop yakking with Robb, I was zooming. The alcohol tasted so good and went down so easy, I soon had one beer in each hand and began to make friends at every turn.

 When I spotted DB Cooper memorial “T” shirts in the merchandise section, I immediately bought one, stripped off my shirts (without nary a whisper or comment from the room full of bar patrons) and donned the shirt. Then I hunted up a Sharpie and began soliciting signatures from Cooper World.

 At each stop we had heart-to-heart talks. Meyer, Robb, Ariel Tavern owner Dona Elliott and Cindy-her-bar-maid, Vicki, Melissa, and on and on.

 In the course of events I came upon a guy about 40 dressed in a green army coat and wearing jeans. He introduced himself as Paul Geivet, pronounced “Ghee-Vet.” He spoke a somewhat recognizable form of English, but I generally had no idea what he said or what he meant. He also had a fistful of books on the DB Cooper case that he has written, which I honor as a remarkable achievement.

 I thought he was selling me one, but he was actually telling me he was giving it to me. I thanked him, but then he asked me to sign it, which I did with my Sharpie, and in turn he signed my shirt in multiple places, as the pix will attest.

 The Paul took the book back and added it to his stack.

 I guess I ain’t getting one, I thought.

 I was correct in my assumption and Paul breezed along into the crowd.

 Mark Bennett then came by and asked me where Grey Cop, a frequent DZ poster, was. I pointed to Paul and said, “I think that’s your man!”

 But Paul was heading towards the memorabilia corner in the Ariel Tavern and was swallowed by the crowd of about 50 revelers. Therefore I had to guide Mark across the dance floor to Paul/Grey Cop. After they made contact I quickly left.  I went outside and dropped to my knees, made the sign of the cross and said a Hail Mary for Mark.

 About ten minutes later, Vicki announced that she was going to rescue Mark, so that shows that prayer does work, particularly from an inebriated lapsed-Catholic in the rain.

 I understand from Mark’s postings at the DZ that Vicki was successful.

 Paul/Grey Cop continued cruising and I saw him with a phone-video camera out of the dance floor when Pat Forman and I were twirling each other. Vicki later showed us the YouTube clip of Paul’s creation.

 Thank you Paul for getting me and my friends on YouTube!

 Robb retreated to the merch room and settled in with a cute coed and other university-looking young people.

 Also in the merchanise area, I found a beautiful woman who looks exactly like Christie from last year, and we shocked each other when she announced that in fact her name is Christie – but not the old Christie from Portland who can really dance and has Parkinson’s. 

 However, new Christie refused to dance with me. I then asked her friend Alyssa to dance with me, and she too refused. Undaunted, I asked Christie’s husband to please speak to his wife and encourage her to dance with me, but he hedged. So, I talked to his best friend who was standing near them, and he said it was above his pay-grade.

 I understand that dilemma so I moved on, but right about then I had my ass pinched by the waitress who was carrying a half-dozen bottles of beer out to the crowd in the street.  It was the first time my ass has gotten pinched by a woman since I was a shopping mall Santa Claus and the secretaries would come down on their lunch hour and render my butt as red as my suit. Hence, I followed the waitress out to the street, and by the time I got to her she was lighting a cigarette. So, I took a deep breath and kissed her on the mouth. She seemed surprised.

 Robb was getting concerned that I was over-consuming and announced that he was hungry, so we headed out to get some food with Vicki. We eventually found a casino that had a great Chinese/Asian restaurant and catered mostly to Asian folks who were really animated when they gambled. It was our kind of place and we ate heartily.

 After we finished we headed back to the B&B and the next day I had a hang over for the first time in ten years. It felt so strange. 

 Oh well, No Pain, No Gain in Cooper sleuthing.

 More yakking ensued and the Formans gave Robb the total low-down on Barb Dayton, their pilot friend who confessed to being DB Cooper, stating that she had reverted to her pre-sex change operation persona of Bobby Dayton. After a great breakfast with fresh-baked Everything Robb, Vicki and I headed back to Tacoma. 

 After saying goodbye to Robb who was heading off to Sea-Tac, Vicki and I went over to her old motel and used the wi-fi to search for Bill Mitchell. The number from Geoff was disconnected, but it was a cell phone in Auburn.

 A few hours of Googling and Internet searching proved unsuccessful, so we went up to Auburn and bounced about the coffee shops looking for a 62 year-old guy who sat next to DB Cooper 42 years ago.

 We didn’t find Billy, but we made a lot of new friends who are now reading Sky Thief.

 Eventually, Vicki and I headed home and she stayed with my neighbors. I staggered into my little abode, and the next day I took her up to Sea-Tac for her return to the Minnie Apple.

 I had a great time. I love you, DB Cooper!


Photo Gallery

___Ariel, 2013, Lewis River B and B,the whole gang, BAS, Robb, Vicki, Pat and Ron_l-r, BAS, Robb Heady, Vicki Wilson, Pat Forman, Ron Forman ____________________________________________

__Ariel, 2013, shirt, DB Cooper__The 2013 memorial Ariel DB Cooper Daze shirt ____________________________________________

__Ariel, 2013, shirt, Mark Bennett_Mark Bennett signed my DB Cooper shirt, proving that he was at Ariel, which has been a question in Cooper circles _____________________________________________

__Symposium 2013, Melissa, Geoff, Gewn Perkins, Doug C-K_L-R, Melissa the Intern, Geoffrey Gray, Gwen Whiting, Doug Kenck-Crispin at the Washington State Historical Museum _____________________________________________

__Symposium 2013, NB-6 rip chord pouch_Rip cord handle pouch on an NB-6 parachute, as shown by Rick Mangan at the WSHM Symposium _____________________________________________

__Symposium 2013, Sail and Michelle w DB Cooper, best_Bob Sailshaw and his wife, Michelle, posing with DB Cooper re-enactor at the WSHM Symposium _____________________________________________

___Symposium 2013, Vicki and Meyer__Vicki Wilson and Meyer Louie at the WSHM COOPER symposium. Later, Meyer sang with the band at Ariel and delivered a fantastic rendition of “Unchain My Heart.” It was better than last year, and the ol’ boy could get himself a professional gig singing.  ___________________________________________

_Symposium 2013, Sail and sketch, dimple__Sail sees great similarities between dimples and facial marks regarding Composite A and photos of Sheridan Peterson, who lived with Bob and Michelle in 1961 and has been investigated twice by the FBI in conjunction with the Norjak case. _____________________________________________

__Ariel, 2013, shirt, Robb Heady_Robb D Heady was there, along with Meyer, Vicki, Ron Forman and Grey Cop. But who is Roxy? ______________________________________________


Symposium 2013, Mark's 20, best

__An actual twenty-dollar bill from the DB Cooper skyjacking. On display at the WSHM, on loan from the DZ’s own 377, Mark Metzler.


Symposium 2013, Vicki and Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett, posted here by popular demand, along with the crowd favorite, Miss Vicki. ________________________________________________

Ariel, 2013, Mark and Grey Cop, head shot, blurry, taken by Vicki,

Mark Bennett and Grey Cop in Ariel.  Pix courtesy of Vicki Wilson. 2013. __________

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8 Responses to DB Cooper – 42nd Anniversary celebrations include symposium in Tacoma and annual bash in Ariel

  1. MeyerLouie says:

    Great write-up Bruce. You did a lot, and thanks for introducing Robb Heady to us. I could tell you were having a ball. Thanks for helping make this past weekend one to remember.

  2. Great Write-up Bruce. I’ve printed a copy to add to our “D B Cooper Memorability

  3. John Marshall says:

    Well Bruce, you did it again. I read every single word! You did a fantastic job. It felt like I was right there with you. Well done!

  4. Bob Sailshaw says:

    Bruce: The photo of me pointing to the place on the wall sketch of DB is the one Meyer Louis saw that he held up the Boeing News photo of Sheridan Peterson. He first noticed the dimple/scar on Sheridan;s face on a previous visit to the Museum and believes (as do I) that there is an almost perfect match but the dimple/scar if enlarged shows the artist must have had some input from the witnesses to that detail. Is this possibly a piece of information held back by the FBI to identify a real suspect?
    Good report Bruce
    Bob Sailshaw

  5. Jimmie says:

    Bob Sailshaw:
    How old would this make Sheridan Peterson? What’s the state of his health? Is there any more information on him publicly available?

  6. Bob Sailshaw says:

    Jimmie: Sheridan was 16 or 17 when he joined the Marines in 1941 when WWII started. He has claimed to be dieing for the last ten years but may be just part of his cover story. The public information on Sheridan is linked here in the Mountain News.and he has talked a lot about himself. Can’t wait to read his book about how Norjak was done.
    Jimmie are you one of the two FBI agents I talked with last December?
    Bob Sailshaw

    • Jimmie says:

      Thanks for the reply. No, I’m no FBI agent. I’m just an inquisitive citizen independently looking for holes/flaws in his background story of his life. His entire past is autobiographical. He’s submitted his own claims for the life he’s led but I have my doubts that he was the man that he said he was. I think he’s more into getting attention and the limelight. I was hoping to try to find an actual birthday with year for him. I’ll have to keep digging. Thanks for your help!

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