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Your Pick: Is D.B. Cooper Lynn Doyle Cooper or is He Kenneth Christiansen?

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Later while eavesdropping, Cooper said, she overheard her uncle Dewey say, "Our money problems are over. We just have to go back and get the money. L.D. hijacked the airplane." Reuters

Unsolved Mysteries' version of D. B. Cooper is still the best. For atmosphere, let's use Brian Eno's Music For film. Okay, let's throw in the Canadian comic book L'Intégrale's Dan Cooper. The ambience must be perfect for true D. B. Cooper ART! But what about the integrity of the story in terms of it being a mystery of history that has a viable solution?

I sense we were coasting a little closer to an answer late last week. I've pondered fanatically on the Gordian knot of Cooper's identity over the past few weeks.

db cooper sketch
For Unsolved Mysteries, Northwest Orient flight attendant, Florence Schaffner, preferred this sketch over the more famous FBI sketch, widely displayed in the news.

After considerable research, that includes an examination of newspaper and magazine articles, video evidence, and the usual suspect, an all knowing soothsayer Wikipedia entry, I now have come to the conclusion, Dan Cooper must be one of only two suspects.

Last week, I was absolutely convinced of Marla Cooper's fresh account, where D.B. is her long lost uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper. Yesterday my thinking shifted a scintilla, even as the bundles of twenty-dollar bills once had shifted downstream in the Washougal River, as it merges with the Columbia River.

I was searching for both the strengths and weaknesses of Marla's latest revelations. A line from a CNN article (My uncle was D. B. Cooper, Oklahoma woman claims) got my attention, as far as the strength side of the argument goes.

Fred Gutt, with the FBI's Seattle Field office said recently: "so far there's not a lot that's inconsistent" with Uncle L.D. as a match with D.B. Cooper.

A photo of L.D. holding a guitar strap is an eye-opener. I need to see a clearer more pristine copy of this photo, but his facial features (to me) better resembles the famous 1971 FBI sketch (with and without sunglasses) than any other photos of suspects I've looked at previously.

The antiquated snapshot of L.D. is the most compelling evidence I've seen so far, but I recognize other affirmations of proof as well.

One of these affirmations is that Lynn Doyle grew up in Sisters, Oregon and had a reputation as an outdoorsman. L.D. had served in the Korean war, but was not a trained paratrooper (as far as Marla Cooper knows). This fact would fit with the FBI's latest assessment, that D.B. wasn't a skilled paratrooper.

Another item, that may be just coincident number one million, in the skyjacker case that ripples with riddles and infinitesimal enigmas, is the connection and fondness for the Canadian comic book hero, Dan Cooper.

The name (the skyjacker) used on his airline ticket was Dan Cooper. What a surprise! The inspiration for the plot itself may have been hatched from the inking of a funny book!

Up to this point, everything looks quite alright, but what are some vulnerabilities? One, which could be quickly jettisoned, is that the FBI doesn't believe D.B. had an accomplice. Dan acted alone.

But Marla's version has her other uncle in on the plot. In fact, the two uncles showed up at the family home in the early morning hour of Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1971.

I find myself disagreeing with the FBI on this significant point of whether or not D.B. had an accomplice. It's far more feasible that he could have made his escape, if an accomplice picked him up in his tattered state, after desperately crawling out of a dense forest (in Washington state) to a lonely stretch of highway (a welcome veneer of civilization, by this time).

Another prickly needle of theoretical usurpation, is where was the location of Marla Cooper's house back in the late fall of 1971, which by all accounts is as action-packed of a Thanksgiving weekend as could ever be imagined?

dan cooper comic book
The mysterious hijacker probably got the Dan Cooper name (and the plot even) from this Canadian comic book.

D. B. jumps out of Northwest Orient Flight 305 at precisely 8:11 PM (or perhaps it's 8:13 PM?), and into a pitch-black, rainy night. The unknown. Never never land, existentially speaking, or better yet, THE PROMISED LAND!

So how does he get back to the family home in merely 12 hours or less? If the other uncle picked him up near a highway (I can't tell you what highway this would be), it is feasible he could get there, assuming the Cooper house was in the Portland area. Again, this makes me wonder why the FBI thinks he acted alone?

It's more logical (in terms of survival) for D. B. to have an accomplice. Then again, this confederate would have to remain tight-lipped for many years to come, down the road. And now we come to suspect number two.

Have you ever given careful consideration to the possibility that Kenneth Christiansen is the real D. B. Cooper? Many Cooper aficionados favor Christiansen, even swear by it, and with good reason.

I watched the History Channel documentary (from January of 2011 - you can view it on YouTube) this morning, and found the evidence to be (almost) overwhelming! The FBI is not buying it, however.

northwest orient flight 305
A photo of the hijacked Boeing 727 jet, Northwest Orient Flight 305, with the odd aft airstair.

The primary reason for this is that Christiansen was 45-years-old at the time of the hijacking, and was shorter, thinner, less tan, and balder than eyewitnesses had formerly described him as being (in his physical appearance).

Other clues about Kenneth make it difficult to entirely eliminate him as the infamous folk-hero bandit of the sky. Why did he have over $200,000 in his bank account when he died (in 1994)? Where did he get the money?

He didn't earn it during his days as a flight attendant for Northwest Orient, did he? And what about the fake black tie, tie clip (a witness has identified these items as belonging to Kenneth), and his fondness for bourbon? Furthermore, why did key-witness, flight attendant Florence Schaffner, believe he was D.B.?

florence schaffner
Key eyewitness, Florence Schaffner, as she appeared in 1971, has publicly stated her belief that Kenneth Christiansen is the one and only D.B. Cooper.

Neither can we eliminate Kenneth, nor can we eliminate Lynn Doyle. Nonetheless, I do believe D.B. is either one guy or the other guy. I'm most curious as to what Florence Schaffner's (I assume Florence is still alive) opinion is about our newest suspect, Lynn Doyle Cooper?

And why does the other airline attendant (who got closer to D. B. than anyone else), Tina Mucklow, prefer to remain silent? Is she trying hard to forget about this vexation of an incident?

Toss the enigma on a growing mountain of mystery, that has tantalized us to spasmodic levels of ecstasy over the past 40 years. And why was a second sketch of D.B. favored by Florence never promulgated by the FBI?

And how did they manage to lose the cigarette butts smoked by our sun-glassed superstar (or villain, if you so choose)? DNA is on the ciggie butts, after all. Track 16 on Music For Films is M386. Better cue up before Cooper jumps off the aft airstair.

John Kays identifies timeless remnants from our past that will endure, or be admired by future generations.

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