Sorry Felix D.B. Cooper Still Has My Vote

Without question the dive Felix Baumgartner took today was astounding. Jumping from a balloon 38 Km. above Earth, travelling fast enough to break the speed of sound, heady stuff. Felix certainly has courage. He also had a support team, special equipment, ground and camera crews. He’s a thrill seeker, an extreme sky diver, a daredevil forever searching for his next rush.

My problem is I can’t get excited about it. I keep pondering D.B. Cooper.

On November 24, 1971 Cooper hijacked a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727 between Portland and Seattle asking 200,000 ransom. Landing in Seattle the ransom and several parachutes Cooper requested were delivered. He told the pilot to fly to Mexico, then made it clear the flight was to be “slow and low” and rear door was to remain unlocked. Somewhere over the Cascade Mountains Cooper jumped from the rear door with nothing but a business suit and bundles of 20s between him and the sub zero night. The estimated altitude was 10,000 feet. Cooper vanished at that moment, no trace has ever been found. In 1980 5,800.00 matching the serial numbers of the Cooper ransom was discovered along the banks of the Columbia River. The case remains open, debate has yet to settle if a man could survive such a dive.

Baumgartner and Cooper may be apples and oranges, but I’ll take a desperate folk hero over a staged thrill dive any day.

Left: An FBIsketch of “D.B. Cooper.” Right: Kenneth Christiansen, Northwest purser and former paratrooper; the suspect.

(Photo: From left to right: FBI/AP; Courtesy of Sherlock Investigations, Inc.)