By Bruce A. Smith
Updated, October 26, 2018
A new, original podcast series on DB Cooper, titled, “The Cooper Vortex,” has just been released on the Internet. Produced by host Darren Schaefer and aided by his production assistant Russel Colbert, the pair have created a unique and richly entertaining addition to the NORJAK story, as the DB Cooper case is known in official circles.
The Cooper Vortex currently has two interviews available – one with yours truly, which runs 2.5 hours, and a one-hour interview with Bradley Collins. The latter details Collins’ book: “My Father Was DB Cooper,” which is Bradley’s account of how and why he believes that his dad, Jack Collins, was the infamous skyjacker.
Both interviews feature numerous side-stories, revealing fascinating and never-before-told insights of how the FBI investigation was actually conducted and the quirks of its principals, or how Bradley as a fifteen-year old coped with the knowledge that his father might be a famous criminal, along with how his mother handled the potential that her husband was DB Cooper. Details, such as Bradley claiming that his grandmother, a Canadian citizen, laundered the $200,000 ransom money through an endless series of Canadian banks has never been discussed publicly before and is absent from Collins’ book.
The production values on this podcast are excellent, and make for an excellent “talking book” experience while driving long distances, or doing lengthy chores at home, like canning vegetables.
While both interviews focus on unusual encounters with principals, such as primary witness Tina Mucklow slamming her front door three times while refusing to talk with a reporter, The Cooper Vortex podcast provides enough basic information in its introductions to inform any type of listener, even those totally unfamiliar with the DB Cooper story.
Darren Schaefer describes his new podcast series on DB Cooper:
“Living in Woodland, Washington right near DB Cooper’s drop zone, I was always interested in the case but never paid much attention to it. Then in 2015, my wife bought me a copy of Geoffrey Gray’s book, Skyjack, for Christmas. I started reading it a few weeks later and I couldn’t put it down. That lead right to Robert Blevins’ book, Into the Blast. After that I was looking on Amazon for another book on DB Cooper and I saw there was a new book that had just come out called DB Cooper and the FBI: A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking by Bruce A. Smith.
“Once I finished that I went straight down the rabbit hole. I started reading the endless information, discussion, and drama that the DBC websites and message boards have to offer. I read 10 more books on the subject, started watching YouTube videos about it, and was fascinated by all of it. Not just the NORJAK case, but the people in the community, too.
“I’m constantly traveling for work and will listen to podcasts in my truck or on a plane, so of course I searched for DBC related podcasts. There were a few true crime or mystery podcasts that had a DB Cooper episode but there is just too much to cover in one episode. What I really wanted was a podcast series dedicated to DB Cooper, but that didn’t exist. So I decided I would produce it myself. I had no equipment, experience, or even any idea how to pull it off., but after doing some research and picking up some gear, I reached out to a few people in the DBC community to see if they would be willing to participate in my project.
“To my surprise, several people in Washington state were willing to be interviewed for the show. I packed up my gear and hit the road. Once I was back in Boise, all I had to do was turn my conversations into a format that people could listen to. That turned out to be a lot more difficult than I imagined. After a few frustrating and disappointing attempts to do it on my own, I realized I needed help. I reached out to my friend Russell Colbert who has a degree in video and audio production. Russell was able to take my audio and turn it into the podcast that I had imagined in the first place.
“A term that is often used in the DBC community is “The Cooper Vortex” because people get sucked into the NORJAK case and can’t seem to escape. Russell and I thought that would be a great name for the show. With two episodes completed we launched the show, and it became available to the public on October 25, 2018 with many more episodes to follow. This show isn’t intended to solve the case or prove anyone wrong or right. The intent is to give the people in the DB Cooper community a platform to tell their story in a fun and easy to digest format. We try to leave it up to the listener to decide what to believe. This is exactly the podcast I wanted to listen to a year ago. Russell and I are very proud of it, and we hope you will enjoy “The Cooper Vortex.’”
The podcast is free, and can be found at the following link: