PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A Phoenix man plans to travel to Washington state next month, hoping to uncover new evidence in the decades-long search for a hijacker who parachuted from a commercial jet with bags full of cash.
The D.B. Cooper case from 1971 is the only unsolved skyjacking in American history.
Eric Ulis of Phoenix thinks federal agents have been looking in the wrong place for Cooper’s landing zone. After reanalyzing weather data, flight information and other clues, he suspects Cooper landed on Bachelor Island, a wooded isle in a national refuge.
On Nov. 24, 1971, a passenger who identified himself as Dan Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient Flight out of Portland by claiming he had a bomb. He released his hostages after authorities turned over $200,000 cash and four parachutes. Cooper directed the flight to take off again with the stairs down, and parachuted out.
“What I'm looking for are those two parachutes. They're still out there. He did not walk out of there with those two parachutes,” Ulis said.
The D.B. Cooper case has achieved a level of pop culture mythology, with books and documentaries claiming to reveal new details about the case.
Several people have declared themselves the real D.B. Cooper. Ulis has written a book about the man he suspects to be D.B. Cooper: a former Boeing employee and smokejumper who was one of the first suspects on the FBI’s radar.
But while Ulis is “98 percent” sure he’s found the real D.B. Cooper, he admits the case is circumstantial – which is why he’s heading to Bachelor Island next month.
Ulis surveyed the island last week and said it shouldn’t be hard to search with metal detectors.
“I'd love to be the guy who actually puts all the pieces together and solves this. Having said that, there's a part of me, and part of everybody who has heard of the case, that doesn't ever want it to be solved. It’s going to lose some of its luster,” Ulis said.