How D.B. got away

Here’s crime-story producer Tom Colbert’s map of D.B. Cooper’s escape.

The black line is the flight path of Northwest Orient flight 305.

The red line is the path of Cooper’s airborne getaway plane.

First, it stages and circles round remote McClellan grass airstrip. Then it proceeds to the rendezvous at Cooper’s drop zone.

FBI records say Cooper stands for five minutes in the passenger jet’s windblown rear stairway after he orders it opened and before he jumps. Colbert believes Cooper was looking for the lights of Goheen airstrip. The Cessna getaway plane also sport an extra-big red collision tail light; a backup beacon, Colbert theorizes, in case the clouds obscure the airstrip lights.

The getaway plane flies northwest to the first of three rivers it would follow south to Lake Vancouver where Cooper jettisons $50,000 and his fake bomb, a ruse to fool pursuers into believing he drowned.

Then, on to a second airstrip where Cooper changes out of his (legendary) business suit — who jumps out of a plane in a business suit? — and switched planes to throw pursuers off the scent.

And so on back to Portland.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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