By Bruce A. Smith
The DB Cooper skyjacking is a stunning true-crime mystery – one of the top whodunits of American lore.
The case is unsolved for decades, but now new investigatory techniques are being used, such as DNA testing, but the most exciting – and controversial – is the use of remote viewing, most commonly known as ESP.
But first, the background of the case and why it has been so difficult to solve using traditional means:
In 1971, a man known as DB Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient airliner and after exchanging the passengers for $200,000, he parachuted into the night skies north of Portland, Oregon. He has never been seen since.
Additionally, we don’t know who Cooper was or if he survived, and nothing has ever been found of the skyjacking—no parachutes, no body or clothes, nor any of the money except for $5,800 that a kid found eight years later buried on a Columbia River beach.
Adding to the intrigue, no one knows how the money got there or when.
The DB Cooper case remains the only unsolved skyjacking in the history of the United States – and the Big Question these days is, why.
The case has become resurgent in recent years as new technology is added to the hunt, and besides DNA testing, the power of the Internet, where citizen sleuths have unprecedented access to information, is also changing the investigatory landscape. These private eyes have revealed that the FBI has bungled its Cooper investigation.
In response, the FBI has grown exceptionally tight-lipped.
Fortunately, a truly dynamic forensic tool has entered the Norjak case, a process called “remote viewing,” which some might call it psychic sleuthing or Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP).
This process might be able to bypass the informational restrictions from the FBI, or even reveal if a cover-up at work. Imagine talking to DB Cooper, or viewing the events of the skyjacking directly via enhanced conscious awareness!
Despite the controversial nature of these techniques, the scientific legitimacy of remote viewing is substantive. Dr. Hal Putoff of the Stanford Research Institute organized the first large-scale investigation of ESP, and eventually his research attracted the interest of the CIA.
By the 1980s, the agency had placed Puthoff in charge of their remote viewing research, and several years later that effort coalesced into the US Army’s Stargate Program.
Several of the early Stargate “RV’ers,” as they are called, have written extensively about their work, especially David Morehouse in Psychic Warrior, and Joe McMoneagle in Mind Trek: Exploring Consciousness, Time and Space Through Remote Viewing.
Additionally, I have spent over twenty years studying the methodology of remote viewing at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (RSE), in Yelm, Washington, and what I learned there I have encompassed with my undergraduate studies in biology and my current research on the New Physics.
The New Physics is an expanding field of study that explores how consciousness influences physical reality. In effect, the New Physics asks, how do your thoughts effect your life?
This research suggests that thoughts interact with physical reality in a dynamic manner, even changing it materially, and this science is the underpinning of remote viewing.
Further, our thoughts can transcend the usual boundaries of time and space, so a successful remote viewer would be able to re-visit November 24, 1971 and observe Norjak unfolding in person.
Here is my understanding of how this radical science works:
The customary five senses of perception, sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, involve the higher brain functions of the neocortex, frontal lobes and the complex part of the brain known as the cerebrum.
However, recent neuro-physiological research indicates that there is another part of the brain that is much different, and its capacities are very unusual. This section is deep within the center of the brain and is called the limbic system. It is filled with glands and tissues that specialize in emotions and feelings.
Further, the limbic system also has the capacity for a deeper level of perception – one that is often characterized as psychic awareness. As a result, it is hypothesized that the limbic system gives us to access expanded realms of consciousness.
But what exactly is consciousness, and how can the limbic system overcome the barriers of time and space? That in turn begs the question: what exactly is time and space?
Einstein’s Theory of Special relativity shows us that time and space are not static or concrete. Time changes as one moves differently through space, and the 2014 movie “Interstellar” portrays the phenomena exquisitely.
Further, PBS’ Dr. Brian Greene offered simple and concrete examples of how time changes relative to movement through space in a recent Town Hall meeting in Seattle.
Greene said that if two people had absolutely synchronized watches and sat together on a couch watching TV, when one of them went over the television set and changed the dial and returned, their watch would read a different time than the person still sitting.
Greene said the concept has been proven many times by flying clocks around the world non-stop. When they get back to their airport of origin, the clocks aboard the aircraft read differently than those at their home base. Similarly, the clocks on the International Space Station have to be re-calibrated periodically to get back into synch with their earth-surface bases.
As for consciousness, it seems to be a vast awareness that spreads beyond what we usually consider to be time and space, even if those concepts are mutable.
Specifically, as I understand Ramtha the Enlightened One, thoughts are created by consciousness interacting in our brain. Similarly, mind, and a concept Ramtha calls “deeper mind” seem to be various levels of consciousness. Further, all of reality actually exists in a kind of eternal, endless “Now.”
With that model it is possible to envision moving through the Eternal Now via consciousness; in particular, being in another time and space through focused thought.
In essence, we shift our conscious awareness and relocate to a different position within the Eternal Now. Thus, with a precise, focused change of consciousness we could travel back to the night of the skyjacking and visit Flight 305 for ourselves.
I have attempted to do just that, and then aided by a hypnotherapist named Gloria Peach.
I have also contacted RV’ers Morehouse and McMoneagle and asked them if their programs investigated Norjak, or if they would like to join my efforts. Unfortunately, they have not replied. I have also been unsuccessful in enlisting other professional remote viewers to joint this effort.
I leave it to you to judge the validity of my experiences. To me they are earnest, initial steps in penetrating the veils that surround Norjak.
Additionally, I am ever-mindful that the Stargate guys considered their best work to be only 20% accurate. I suppose the big question is: how does one know which remote views fall into the 20%. As a result, I consider all of my experiences as possibilities and use them as a place from which to conduct more conventional investigatory efforts.
In March 2010, I began my remote viewing sessions. Despite its fancy name, my sessions would appear to most folks as a typical meditation routine –I sat crossed legged in a comfortable position, closed my eyes, and breathed slowly and deeply.
As I entered my meditative trance, I envisioned Flight 305 flying through the clouds. I felt excited. Soon, I saw the red tail of a Northwest Orient 727 in my mind’s eye.
Next, I heard the roar of the engines, and then the smell of jet fuel. At that point I focused on the sketch of DB Cooper’s face, and I felt myself inside the cabin of Flight 305. I was immediately enveloped into an environment that I can only describe as a “70’s vibe.” Specifically, I looked around and saw men with long side burns and 1970s dress – polyester clothing and bell-bottomed trousers. Oddly, I felt oppressed by these sensations and began getting nauseous.
To counter that experience I re-focused on DB Cooper’s face. I sensed him sitting next to Tina and I tried to envision what they were doing and saying, but little came from it. I kept trying to drill into the focus but I only got more nauseous. After a couple more attempts I stopped. I was surprised how difficult the experience was and how awful I felt.
I ended the meditation. However, I needed several more time than usual to come back to my normal state of mind, or even open my eyes. When I did, I got dizzy if I moved too quickly.
Later, I found it very difficult to write any notes. At best, I scribbled cursory notes before the memory faded, somewhat like recording a dream.
I repeated these meditative efforts for several more days, through March 2010, but received little new information. Oddly, to this day I can re-visit these “in-flight” scenes easily, but I can’t get any more detail. It always makes me nauseous, too.
As a result, in subsequent meditative sessions I shifted my focus slightly. In my mind I merely focused on the sketch of DB Cooper. Within a few moments I saw a face. Then I asked questions, and the first was obvious: “Who are you?”
“I am Charles!…Bar…ka…ley…clay,” I heard the face say, pronouncing his first name quite loudly. But his last name was garbled to me, and I heard variations of Bar-Clay, Bark-Lee and Berkley. I wondered if I was superimposing my memory of the famous basketball player over what I was receiving through my limbic system.
This confusion persisted, but I returned to the meditation several times over the next few days. Finally I heard him say, “Barclay, like the bank in Great Britain.”
Clear, I proceeded and asked, “Where are you?”
Spontaneously, in a little squeaky voice like a child, I heard, “I’m in heaven.”
A couple weeks later I re-visited Charles. He confirmed he was Charles Barclay and was now out of his body and in a place he called heaven. I continued with my questions.
“Where did you land?”
“In a field,” he replied.
I saw an image of a flat, open terrain with a small stand of older saplings thick along the perimeter to the east. I heard road noises nearby. The scene felt rural, but not wilderness. Seeking more detail I asked again.
“Can you tell me where you landed exactly? What state or area?”
I heard no reply, so I offered a prompt. “Washington or Oregon?”
Again, I received no response, but the visualization of the field came back into my mind. After a long pause, I received a thought from Charles.
“I’m protecting someone who is still alive,” I heard him say, and I sensed the person he was shielding was a woman.
I thought of the relationship between Clara and DB Cooper, as described in Max Gunther’s novel, DB Cooper – What Really Happened.
In this book a character known as Clara was house-sitting a cabin in the Cooper’s LZ and met the skyjacker in the woods shortly after he landed. He had a sprained ankle and Clara took him home to nurse his injury. Eventually they fell in love and moved to New York, spending the ransom money after laundering it in Atlantic City casinos.
Although I maintained my focus on the face of DB Cooper, no other information came forward. I felt like I was interviewing a very reluctant witness, and I wondered how reliable any of this was.
Several months later, a hypnotherapist named Gloria Peach volunteered to me search for DB Cooper. I heartedly agreed.
Over the next few weeks we had six sessions. Gloria put me into a trance-like state reminiscent to my solo work, and then used guided-imagery techniques to lead me through successive levels of consciousness. Eventually, I was able to interact with DB Cooper and others in the case, such as Tina Mucklow and Ted Braden.
Our first session was September 19, 2011. Gloria guided me back to the plane in flight, and I found it very helpful to have a guide.
Here is my report:
“The smoke – UG! – the cigarette smoke.”
I lingered and observed the cabin, especially Cooper and Tina. I saw that Tina was in control of the situation even though Cooper had the bomb on his lap. She looked and acted confident, smooth but not flirty. She appeared to be emotionally neutral.
Gloria put me a little deeper into trance:
“I can’t get a good read on his face,” I wrote later in my notes. “He’s leaning into her. Tina jokes with Cooper, they light cigarettes. She is comfortable. He seems comfortable, or ‘not tense.’ He’s tall and lean.”
I asked Cooper why he hijacked the plane.
“Airline safety improved didn’t it!” he said emphatically, following the line that is espoused by Bob Knoss.
I asked about the hijacking and got the following tidbits:
I was told Cooper boarded in Pittsburgh and got off in Chicago, but this was not the actual itinerary of Flight 305.
I asked him his name again, and I was surprised when he said “Richard.” I have no idea what happened to the Charles Barclay persona.
Cooper, or “Richard,” confirmed that the hijacking was a quasi-military operation, with a “General Sherman” in charge.
“He was a major at the time,” Richard told me.
Richard told me about his upbringing and background. He said that his father was in WW II as an intelligence officer, a “General Brack” or “Brock.” Again, it came across garbled.
However, no family was involved in the skyjacking, but Richard was “part of a team.”
Richard said that he had died in 1986 and that he was in heaven. I asked him to describe it.
“You can say that I’m on a cloud,” he said, smirking and chuckling.
My second session with Gloria occurred a week later. I was able to go more deeply into “absolute elsewhere,” as Ramtha describes the experience, and covered a range of topics pertaining to Norjak. First, I visited Ralph Himmelsbach.
I saw a basement filled with lots of file cabinets. It was dark, and file cabinets surrounded a conference table. I opened a cabinet drawer and was surprised to see it was mostly empty. The files themselves were skinny.
Not much in here, I told myself.
Gloria told me to “see something new,” and I left Himmelsbach. Within moments I encountered a dark haired woman who told me her name was Doris.
She was an older woman and seemed like she was a WAC in WW II, or she looked like a picture of a WAC pilot – short curled hair, styled. But I knew she was something else.
“Are you a flight attendant?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered. I heard her last name as “Berdanke,” or Bern-Danks.”
She said she knew DB Cooper from the composite drawings, and she was part of 305’s originating crew from Washington, DC. Doris told me she had served Cooper drinks as they flew into Chicago from Pittsburgh, and said the skyjacker had a bag in the overhead compartment. She said she remembered Cooper getting off in Chicago, and has never told anyone this information. She said she was never questioned by the FBI.
Gloria told me to move on. I encountered DB Cooper, who again called himself “Richard.” I looked him in the eye.
“Can I talk with you?” I asked.
Richard didn’t answer; then he shrugged.
“Why?” I asked. The following is what I received:
“It was a job. It was an operation. Our identities were totally protected. We never talked about it. We never talk about jobs. To talk is like deciding not to breathe – it’s just not done. It’s not a problem. I don’t need to talk and never have. It’s how things are, in my world. Lots of us are like this. Keeping quiet is part of the job, part of who we are. It’s like looking in a mirror and seeing that we are physically fit – that our workouts keep our bodies in tip-top shape. Our training is top-notch, too. Keeping your mouth shut and not needing to talk, is all part of the conditioning, the make-up of who we are. Nobody is flabby and gabby. Nobody. Nobody ever talks about any job. Nobody would think to do that. If they did, they’d never be here.”
I asked Richard where “here” is. He launched into another soliloquy on his professional life. He told me his “world” is an isolated, hidden one, cloaked by the rural geography of military bases and veiled by the culture of military life. He said he has “minimal interaction with the world,” meaning life outside the military. He continued and said the military world is so separate from the civilian world that it’s easy to stay silent.
“No one ever asks, so no one ever has to say anything,” he told me.
“Why?” I ask.
“It’s a warrior’s code,” he tells me. “It’s what we do. Why did I do it? (the skyjacking). Because that’s what we do, that’s what I do. I had a job to do and I did it. It’s like counting coup. Am I prepared enough? Is my gear good enough? Is my team organized and smart enough? Am I tough enough? It’s a personal challenge.
“You (reporters) will never find us,” he added. “The only way is to do what you’re doing now (remote viewing).” He continued:
“It was a military job. We eat the FBI’s lunch. They’ll never know. It was an operation. Purpose? I don’t know. Could have been a lot of reasons – test the SAGE radar? Improve airlines safety? Check out the radios? Test law enforcement on the ground? Who knows? It could have been a lot of reasons depending on who was involved. It’s a game, a test of one’s skills. It’s all a game – our dreams, our jobs, whatever we do.
Richard continued and told me he has no particular pride in being DB Cooper.
“Why did you pick the name, Dan Cooper?” I asked.
Richard laughed loudly. “I liked the name,” he said, and laughed again. “But it got changed right away! DB Cooper – who the fuck is that? Unless others changed the name on purpose.”
Richard then appeared very somber and serious, even a little anxious.
Is the game still afoot? I wondered.
I asked Richard if he will re-incarnate. He shrugged.
“I might be an intelligence operative,” he says. I always had a job, always had a pay check – that’s how the world is. If the world doesn’t want you, they don’t pay you.”
Richard told me about his father, again, and said, “military intelligence is a father-son thing. It’s like passing down a trade. You know how it is.” He told me his brother was also in military intelligence.
He said his unit was part of the army, but that his particular outfit was not SOG. “It’s deeper than that,” he said, meaning that it was more covert and hidden. However, he acknowledged that his unit was under the same command as SOG.
I asked Richard how he died. He shrugged. I asked again. He hesitated, but realized I was going to be insistent.
“I was drinking. I got tired of living and died.”
“Can we talk again?” I asked.
“If you can find me,” he said smiling.
My next session with Gloria was special – I visited with Tina Mucklow, the flight attendant who spent five hours with Cooper and is considered the primary witness to the skyjacking.
Actually, I felt I spoke with only a part of Tina, the not-angry-at-Bruce part, since she and her family have been exceptionally frosty to me.
Tina told me first about her life and then the hijacking. She also told me that she feels that she “never really disappeared.”
“People were looking for Tina Mucklow,” she told me, explaining that her main cover was using her ex-husband’s name.
However, to reveal anymore of this session I feel that I must get Tina’s consent.
A few days later I went looking for Ted Braden, the Vietnam Special Operations Group commando touted by many in the Special Forces as DB Cooper. It was a very difficult session, even with Gloria’s help. I felt I went into a very deep trance and was very groggy afterwards. I believe one of the reasons for the difficulty is that I sought more specific information, not just general impressions. I wanted facts that could be verified.
After Glory put me into a trance, I focused on an image of Ted in a Vietnamese field. Here is what I received in response:
Ted said he was dead, having passed away in 2006.
“2007 was a mistake,” he told me, apparently correcting some clerical error that still haunted him. He added that he died of a heart attack.
I asked him if he actually drove a truck in the second half of his life.
“Yeah, I needed a job,” he told me.
Continuing, I asked him if he was DB Cooper, and he denied it. Ted told me that the skyjacker was a covert CIA operative named “John Romano.” Ted also said that he wanted to be part of John’s group but was denied. He also said that John is still alive.
At this point something unusual happened – a silvery hue enveloped the figure I knew to be Ted Braden. He was back-lit, and I saw an opening that appeared to be a staircase.
The aft stairs to a 727? The Stairway to Heaven? I wondered.
Then, the scene shifted back to Vietnam. Ted was on bivouac and seemed aware of how I was communicating with him.
“You would have learned a lot in Vietnam,” he told me. “That’s how we stayed alive there – we had to focus!”
After a long hiatus from remote viewing caused by family visits, financial difficulties and my heart attack, I resumed my sessions with Gloria in June 2012. I re-visited DB Cooper, and received my fourth name change.
Now, Cooper said he was “Richard Bengstrom.” However, he did confirm that he died in 1986.
We spoke at length about his team. He called it “The Group.” He said they had all served in covert ops in Vietnam together, and had been stationed at Fort Lewis before deploying.
Richard told me that The Group had three members, and they acted as his ground retrieval team. He identified them as Ralph Munce, a second soldier named Jim – whose last name I never got – and a third trooper, Pete Stupinski.
According to this Richard, Munce found him in a field and took him to the Portland airport, where Richard flew home to Fort Bragg.
Richard said that The Group buried the money and chutes in a field just south of Ariel, near a line of trees. He said that they communicated with radios.
Richard also said that he didn’t know either Sheridan Peterson or Ted Braden. Richard characterized the skyjacking as a “private job done on military time.” He added that most of the preparation for the skyjacking was done as part of their normal covert training in the military.
“The taxpayers paid for it,” he said simply.
After these sessions I decided to stop the remote viewing. Frankly, the information seemed too chaotic for me to corroborate, nor did I have the resources to investigate more fully.
Nevertheless, I needed to start somewhere on this remote viewing business, as it has the potential to circumvent all of the people and events that have thwarted the hunt for DB Cooper.
And I did have a lucid dream that touched upon this work:
I was walking down the aisle of Cooper’s Flight 305 and approached seat 18-E.
“Excuse me, Mr. Cooper,” I said, “my name is Bruce Smith, and I’m a reporter with the Mountain News. Do you mind if I sit down and talk to you about what is going on?”
He looked at me in a non-plussed manner, and nodded to his left, sure, sit down.
He looked me over a bit and eyed my lanyard and credentials, my short hair and polar fleece jacket.
“You’re from the future, aren’t you,” he asked.
“Yes, I am,” I replied.
DB Cooper sat back in his seat and smiled. “Then you’re my ticket out of here.”
Editor’s Note: The above article is an excerpt from my book, DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking, which is available at Amazon Kindle:
© 2015 Bruce A. Smith
The Mountain News-WA