DB Cooper – An Overview

By Bruce A. Smith

From the 3rd Edition of DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking, due to be published in early 2021.


On the day before Thanksgiving in 1971, DB Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient 727 airliner just after leaving Portland International Airport in Oregon. Upon landing in Seattle, the skyjacker exchanged the thirty-five passengers for $200,000 in cash and four parachutes, and later used one of those chutes to make his escape via the plane’s unique internal aftstair system.

DB Cooper has never been seen since, and nothing from the hijacking has ever been found except for a few bundles of ransom money found buried in 1980 on a Columbia River beach, located on the outskirts of Vancouver, Washington.

To this day, no one knows DB Cooper’s fate or identity.

The DB Cooper case is the only unsolved skyjacking in the history of the United States. But now the FBI seems willing to affirm that failure forever, since they officially closed the case on July 8, 2016.

The FBI claims they have exhausted all credible leads and collected all available evidence. But did they? Records show that they lost some evidence over the years, and other tantalizing finds, such as pieces of titanium and other exotic metals detected on the necktie DB Cooper left on the plane, have never been commented upon publicly. So, we don’t know how intensively they were examined, if at all.

As an investigative journalist, I am not satisfied with the FBI’s press releases and bromides, and certainly not their silence, As a result, I have continued digging into this story. This book is a compendium of what I have found, and it is both an analysis of a bold crime and an exploration of the FBI’s investigation. Simply, these pages are as much about the FBI as they are DB Cooper.

Further, I feel this is a story for our times because it shows how law enforcement truly functions. Unfortunately, the FBI is not as effective as portrayed on TV. The heroes of Hollywood’s cop shows do not exist in the main, and the FBI is a huge bureaucracy that has trouble solving innovative crimes, especially if they involve multiple jurisdictions.

Adding to bureaucratic turgidity are the impacts of politics and budgetary restraints. Competing national security agendas seem to have played a role in the DB Cooper case, as revealed by the Bureau closed the case citing the need to address terrorism and drug trafficking.

In that kind of atmosphere, the FBI does not welcome probing journalists, which adds to the fog that envelopes the DB Cooper case. I have only been able to speak with one active-duty FBI official, the case agent Larry Carr in 2008.

Other principals of the saga are also mute, particularly the crew, which further veils this drama.

Nevertheless, the DB Cooper story has captured the attention of the world. Many consider Cooper to be a folk hero for “Beating Da Man,” seemingly getting away with a pile of money and leaving the FBI in his dust.

In addition, interest in DB Cooper has become resurgent due to technological advances, especially the advent of the Internet. The use of chat rooms, emails and Google allows many journalists and private sleuths to investigate the case with authority. Plus, DNA testing has virtually re-opened the case, while DB Cooper-related deathbed confessionals have added to a plethora of suspects.

Perhaps the most important development is the FBI’s official closing of the case because that transferred ownership of all Cooper case files from the government to the public domain. The FBI remains the gatekeeper to these documents, but they no longer exercise the same informational control. Since 2016, an estimated 70,000 files have been put into the public’s hands – often selectively, however. My Freedom of Information Application (FOIA) requests to the FBI have been denied, as have other FOIAs from numerous journalists. But academicians who have received documents via their FOIAs have been forwarding their files to certain journalists, most notably Thomas J. Colbert, and he in turn has been funneling them to research outlets, such as the DB Cooper Forum.

This treasure trove consists of memoranda, summary reports, and most importantly, the 302 field reports from FBI agents. These latter documents are often raw and in conflict with each other, but they are the quintessential source of information in the DB Cooper case. They are called “302s” because that is the number of the “form” the agents use. Individually, each 302 also received a second numerical designation, such as “302-164-81,” and where possible I cite these identifying numbers. Also, the term “302” has become a short-hand means of describing a federal document, and I often refer to a file as a “302,” even though it may be a summary report or memo.

Regardless, “Da Man” may have wanted to put the story to rest permanently by closing the case, but that is clearly not happening. Many want to keep searching for the truth, and this book is intended for those intrepid folks.

Welcome to the hunt, my friends.

A-1 Book

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30 Responses to DB Cooper – An Overview

  1. edsarasota says:

    Hey Bruce, how are you in Washington? Still safe? Have you been to the Columbia River Beach?
    What caused you to be obsessed with the DB saga? Stay Safe,

    • Johnnie Greene says:

      Bruce is doing great in WA. He kicked Blevins off the Mountain News. Advertising sales have gone up. His book is selling great. Bruce has a contract with a huge Hollywood production company. Blevins spends his time fighting off Derek Godsey at the DZ, as well as polishing turds in his back yard. It’s what he does best.

  2. brucesmith49 says:

    Hi ED in Sarasota. Yup, I’m still safe in WA. My little green 6-acre oasis provides me with room for a garden, shade trees, and safety. Yup, I’ve been to Tina Bar on the Columbia – a few times now. I even went swimmin’ there once – it was 106 degrees!

    As for being obsessed with DB C, I’m not sure how or why it happened – but it did. I suppose a couple of things came into action. One, it’s a national story that you can actually wrap your head around, unlike 9-11, the JFK assassination, etc. Therefore I’ve been able to productively dig into the case, and unwrap some of the mysteries – or at least report on the ones that others are unraveling, such as the recent diatom discovery by Tom Kaye.

    It may also be a guy thing. Intellectually wanting to solve a mystery. Or a protector-response – why can’t the FBI solve it, well… I’ll try. We’re having a conversation on this topic at the DB Cooper Forum. Over half the true crime books read in the USA are bought by women – but NOT DB Cooper. In fact, there are no regular posters here or at the Forum who are women. “Marla” is the exception, and I’m not sure who she is, let alone if she’s a woman.

    • Marla says:

      I’m actually a very feminine woman, Bruce. And I love true crime and your Mountain News.
      But I do call out phoneys, liars, and egocentric maniacs when I hear them. And the biggest one I know of is Robert Blevins. He’s been around for about a decade, spouting off his lies and bs. And as long as he posts his bs and off topic garbage at the DZ, I will continue to post about him. You’re the best, Bruce.

  3. Eric Ulis says:

    For your viewing entertainment, I discuss the Western Flight Path versus the FBI Flight Path.

    • FLYJACK says:

      Eric keeps elevating assumptions and conjecture to facts to sell his narrative. He has no facts. His argument is pure speculation. Speculation has its place but not to negate facts.

      Fact – There is no flight path controversy, only two “Cooper” people push it.
      Fact – We don’t know that nothing was ever found along the original flight path, we only know nothing was turned in and confirmed by the FBI.
      Fact – The FBI LZ does have unsearchable dense zones.
      Fact – The Placard was not confirmed from 305, the FBI walked it back. My research shows it is unlikely from 305 but possible.
      Fact – The wind near the Placard location was not known. Closest, Toledo at 8 PM was S. The other data was from Portland and Salem averaged from 8-9 PM, far from the Placard.… Portland at 7 was SE.. the FBI admitted the wind was an estimate. The fact is the winds were shifting and there is NO WIND DATA for the Placard location. Eric/R99 placard drift analysis is garbage.
      Fact – The Boeing part claimed to be found was never ID’d in the FBI files and never confirmed from 305.
      Fact – The F-106’s turned E about the 8:15 mark after Cooper jumped per FBI LZ.
      Fact – The T-33 pilot claimed he intercepted 305 at Lake Oswego.. Also, South end of Sauvie Island drops down W of Portland.
      Fact – Ammerman does not dispute the FBI Flight path..
      Fact – Portland radar screen was much more accurate than Ammerman’s and the operator said 305 was miles E of center line.

      There is overwhelming evidence for the FBI flight path which Eric just ignores. I won’t cover those.

    • brucesmith49 says:

      Loved it. Thank you, Eric.

      • Johnnie Greene says:

        Having Eric and Flyjack at Cooper Con for an intellectual debate would be a tremendous improvement to this case. Hope it happens. Bloopins is still posting crap at the DZ, trying to tell us that Bruce would be rich if he used Bloopins as his agent. LOL. Bruce, an author who writes well, hardly needs Blooper to do his bidding. Bruce would be stalked and forever beholden to this mentally ill janitor. Good move, Bruce. Bloop might have even held you to a couple campouts. 🤣

  4. Eric Ulis says:

    I keep on inviting someone, anyone, to debate me on this via The Cooper Vortex podcast because then the non-sense can be immediately challenged. Yet all I see is whining. Oh well, I do enjoy watching one person in particular go bat-shit crazy every time I post a video like this. It is it’s own form of entertainment. Cheers!

    • FLYJACK says:

      The facts have been laid out and you just continue to ignore them, as usual.

      Now, I see your are trying to discredit the Portland radar operator.. (shutters site)

      Your playbook is to discredit information and sources that refute your narrative and to elevate supporting conjecture to fact..

      Normally, I wouldn’t care about such an easily discredited theory but you stole the research I contributed to the case for everyone to use and you claimed it was yours, then called me liar and troll, you really stole from everyone. You are a fraud.

      I really hope you continue pushing your BS narrative… it is getting crazier and crazier..

  5. FLYJACK says:

    Eric asks..

    Can anyone answer these two basic and very simple questions:

    1) If the Air Force utilized functioning SAGE radar data to craft the FBI Flight Path, why then did they need input from NWO Flight Operations, the pilots of the F-106’s, a controller at PDX and the Flight Data Recorder?

    2) Moreover, why would their flight path map, the location of 305 at certain specific times, and the FBI Search Area ever be modified?


    1. They were all trying to pinpoint the jump location, not manipulate the flight map.

    2. The early plotting calculations had an error rate, they recalculated to reduce the error rate. I believe it was 1 mile then reduced to half a mile. The FBI search area was modified because of the wind estimates getting revised.. to the S… twisting the LZ counter clockwise.

    • Marla says:

      Ho…..hummmmm. The name calling continues. Meanwhile, does anyone know if Robert Blevins has ever been to Tina Bar? My sources say that he has not. Surely, there must be some kind of toilet cleaning job in the area, so that he has a real reason to visit the mystery site.

      • Johnnie Greene says:

        Marla, the Big Boobinbator hasn’t been anywhere to investigate known important places in the Cooper case. Maybe Ariel, WA, where he botched that show. The Boob has one interest only: to wreck and destroy the good work of others. Ask Eric Ulis. Ask Dave at Cooper Forum. Ask Bruce Smith. His own book is chock full of errors and bs. That’s why he is the Boop. We understand that he may be able to clean toilets. Beginning to wonder about that.
        Auburn, WA has one of the biggest turd problems in the country. Got that? His name is Robert Blevins, owner of two pretend businesses. Adventure Books, which is run out of a studio apartment with a small printer purchased at Fred Meyer, and R&G Toilet Cleaners, which produces more turds than they can flush.

      • Gypsy23 says:

        Interesting that Blevins seems so illiterate about the many known details of the Cooper case. He hasn’t even read the best known books about the case. “Into the Trash,” Blevin’s book, is pure fiction. It was written while Gayla was busy scrubbing toilets for Bobby. Now, Blevins has only a junker car to show for his net worth. Yet, he talks a big deal about his movie contracts. This is the continued behavior of a psychopath and pathological liar.

      • Gypsy23 says:

        Yeah, and Blevins constantly berates Bruce Smith for turning down money or living in a meager dwelling. Blevins is a pure, hypocritical POS. Smith has character and is a pleasant person. BiG difference between the two.

      • Marla says:

        Interesting that Blevins knows so much about serial killers and stalking. Didn’t he stalk Bruce Smith at his house once?
        I wonder if Blevins was a Green River suspect? Stalkers and serial killers love to read about themselves and try to solve their own crimes. Creepy? Oh yeah…….he’s definitely creepy.

      • Gypsy23 says:

        Blevins is creepy……… and with Alzheimers creeping in. Perfect entertainment for the DZ.

      • Johnnie Greene says:

        REAL cReePy. Trying to entice Flyjack to go camping with him, employing pedophile-like tactics. Beware! Flyjack. Bloopinator needs camping friends so he can later try to destroy you like he did to Bruce. The ultimate cReeP.

      • Marla says:

        These idiots at the DZ, still placating Robert Blevins as though he speaks the truth about his fantasy movie. A bunch of hogwash. There’s no movie. Blevins LIES about everything. Get real, Dudeman. You look like a fool of engagement. The Christianson story is a made up joke. The FBI knows that.

  6. FLYJACK says:

    Here is my “TBAR MONEY FIND” spot vs Eric’s.. on a 1990 map.

    HIs spot is about 25 feet further E from the River and 40 feet North from my spot.

    NO way Eric is correct, it just does not match the tree pattern and other markers, whatsoever.

    My spot is close, it could be within 10 feet of the actual spot. It is near to the S side of the most Westerly tree. The key trees match the Sept 79 tree pattern and images from the 1980 money find time.

    Eric’s spot is on the wrong side of the tree and too far from the river.

    • FLYJACK says:

      I flipped the 1990 map to make them the same orientation.

      The angle isn’t exactly the same but all the marks line up.. including the trees, rock and road.

      Eric’s spot, (the lower yellow pin) is clearly about 40 ft too far N and 25 ft too far E. (away from the River)

      • FLYJACK says:

        The ROCK is in both of the 1980 Heli shots…

        Eric is 100% wrong, he is on the N side of the tree and too far from the River, that makes his claim that it was underwater only twice, false. It was found on the high water line.

      • FLYJACK says:

        I did my money spot research without checking Tom’s or Eric’s spot first..

        I just checked Eric’s spot and he did get the spot right in the 1980 images,, exactly the same as my spot.

        However, the GPS co-ords he posted don’t seem to match the spot he ID’d in the 1980 photos.

        Now, it is very tricky to get the exact GPS co-ords today for the 1980 environment. I am going to try to get more precise GPS co-ords.

  7. brucesmith49 says:

    Well, we’re getting closer….

  8. Johnnie Greene says:

    Meanwhile, let’s bring some real “facts to the table.” Was Kenny Christianson a child rapist?
    Why would Hollywood do a movie on Kenny Christianson if they thought Kenny Christianson was a child rapist? Does anyone at he Portland Yacht Club give a shit about Robert Blevins? Does Robert Blevins clean toilets better than his woman? Is the specific gravity at the Blevin’s home equal to the number of copies sold of “Into the Trash?”
    Stay tuned for the results of our factual poll.

  9. Johnnie Greene says:

    Meanwhile, let’s bring some real “facts to the table.” Was Kenny Christianson a child rapist?
    Why would Hollywood do a movie on Kenny Christianson if they thought Kenny Christianson was a child rapist? Does anyone at he Portland Yacht Club give a shit about Robert Blevins? Does Robert Blevins clean toilets better than his woman? Is the specific gravity at the Blevin’s home equal to the number of copies sold of “Into the Trash?”
    Stay tuned for the results of our factual poll.

    • Marla says:

      The sobriquet for Robert Blevin’s 10-year nonsense postings of the DB Cooper mystery:
      “The Pathological Liar “

      • Johnnie Greene says:

        Why would anyone knowingly do a deal with Blevins, or a deal brokered by Blevins? Answer : they wouldn’t.
        Bruce wouldn’t.
        Georger wouldn’t.
        Dave Brown wouldn’t.
        Sheridan wouldn’t.
        Eric Ulis wouldn’t.
        Reason: Blevins is a liar, a cheat, a cheapskate, and an idiot.
        These guys wouldnt even want Blevins cleaning their toilet, which Blevins claims is his masterpiece, professional calling.

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