Editor's note: The following is the first of a multi-part Coin World series about the 1971 D.B. Cooper skyjacking prepared by Michele Orzano for the August 2014 monthly edition of Coin World.
On Feb. 10, 1980, 8-year-old Brian Ingram of Washington was vacationing with his family on the Columbia River about 9 miles downstream from Vancouver, Wash.
He was raking the sandy riverbank to build a campfire when he uncovered three packets of cash, significantly disintegrated but still bundled in rubber bands. It amounted to about $5,800 worth of $20 Federal Reserve notes.
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Ingram’s family gave the money to the FBI who then confirmed the money was a portion of the ransom demanded by 1971 skyjacker D.B. Cooper. The two packets each contained 100 $20 FRNs and a third packet of 90, all arranged in the same order as when given to Cooper.
The name “D.B. Cooper” entered the American vocabulary shortly after a skyjacking (hijacking of an aircraft) on Nov. 24, 1971, when a man carrying a black attaché case approached the Northwest Orient Airlines ticket counter at Portland International Airport in Portland, Ore., and bought a one-way ticket to Seattle.
He purchased his ticket using the alias Dan Cooper, but through miscommunication in the resulting media tidal wave, he became known as D.B. Cooper.
Shortly after takeoff, Cooper passed a note to one of the flight attendants telling her he had a bomb in his briefcase and that he was hijacking the airplane.
He demanded $200,000 in U.S. cash; four parachutes (two primary and two reserve); and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the aircraft upon arrival.
Sometime during the flight, Cooper opened a door in the back of the airplane, lowered the attached staircase, and parachuted out into the darkness during a heavy rainstorm over rugged terrain somewhere between Seattle and Reno.