Pirate of the Sky: An Unsolved Thanksgiving Mystery

While you sit at the dinner table this Thanksgiving trying to solve the mystery of what exactly the canned cranberry sauce is made out of, take time to remember the greatest, unsolved Thanksgiving mystery of all—D.B. Cooper (actually Dan Cooper, if not for a media miscommunication) and the hijacking of Flight 305.

On November 24, 1971, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a man dressed like a businessman and carrying a black case boarded a 30-minute flight to Seattle, WA from Portland International Airport in Oregon. Once the plane was in the sky, the man—who had identified himself as Dan Cooper—handed a flight-attendant a folded note. Assuming it was the businessman’s feeble attempt at flirting, she initially ignored it.

However, things turned quickly as he leaned in and instructed her that she might want to take a look at it—he had a bomb.

Cooper then hijacked the plane and made a ransom demand. The ransom was authorized, and after circling the Puget Sound for about two hours, the plane landed in Seattle. The passengers were all instructed to get off the aircraft, and the ransom and parachutes were successfully delivered while the plane refueled.

Once back in the air, Cooper demanded the crew remain in the cockpit with the door closed. He then opened the aft airstairs apparatus and at some point, jumped out of the moving Boeing 727. When the plane finally landed, authorities searched the cabin and found that Cooper had indeed exited the aircraft.

A full investigation was launched, but to this day, the case remains open and unsolved. Nobody knows what happened to this calm, well-dressed, air pirate, and the ransom money was never observed to have made it back into circulation.

So while you loosen your belt and let the tryptophan slowly take you away, give thanks to the only unsolved case of air piracy in American aviation history.

And who knows—that odd uncle that you only interact with during the holidays—maybe he has a secret to air out…

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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