1188 Brewing Company
D.B. Cooper Hefeweizen
John Day, OR
The story of D. B. Cooper and his incredible exploits have become legendary around the Pacific Northwest. The only problem is, “D. B. Cooper” is not actually a real person. It is merely a nickname given to someone, whoever he is, that pulled off the most incredible mid-air hijacking in American history.
On November 24, 1971, a Caucasian man estimated to be in his mid-40s entered the Portland International Airport and bought a one-way ticket to Seattle on Northwest Airlines Flight 305 under the name Dan Cooper. The Boeing 727 was about one-third full when it took off at 2:50 in the afternoon and Cooper had settled into a seat in the back of the cabin where he smoked a cigarette and ordered a bourbon. He handed a note to flight attendant Florence Schaffner but she initially dismissed it, assuming that the man dressed in a business suit was trying to flirt with her. After informing Schaffner that he had a bomb, she read the note and sat beside him as instructed. Cooper then told Schaffner that he wanted $200,000, four parachutes (two primary and two reserve), a fuel truck waiting at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and that she should relay the message to the pilots. Schaffner followed his instructions and then returned to her seat only to find Cooper now wearing dark sunglasses. Schaffner later noted that throughout the entire event Cooper was calm, polite and very well-spoken.
Northwest Airlines authorized the request and while the money, parachutes and fuel truck were being prepared, the plane was forced to circle the airport as the pilots informed the passengers of “mechanical difficulty”. Cooper ordered a second bourbon while he waited and made sure to pay his tab. Upon landing, the money and parachutes were brought aboard and Cooper ordered that all passengers, including Schaffner, be deplaned. While the aircraft was being refueled, Cooper outlined the flight path the pilots were to take to Mexico City. He also requested that the plane move as slowly as possible, that the landing gear remain deployed, that the cabin remain unpressurized and that the wing flaps be lowered by 15 degrees.
Back in the air by 7:40 pm, the Boeing 727 headed south and was escorted by two F-106 fighter planes although they stayed above and below the plane to avoid detection. Cooper politely ordered the remaining four crew members into the cockpit and shut the door, and at about 8:00 pm the pilots observed a drastic change in the cabin’s air pressure, indicating that the rear door had been opened. Around 10:15 the plane landed in Reno, NV, a previously designated refueling spot, and a search of the cabin determined that Cooper was nowhere to be found.
The ensuing investigation turned up very little. Two of the parachutes as well as Cooper’s clip-on tie were found on the plane. A man named D. B. Cooper from Oregon was interviewed and cleared as a potential suspect but an unfortunate error by a local reporter caused his name to forever be associated with the crime. Searches were conducted from the air and on land across a wide range of the Pacific Northwest and, in all, it was probably the most extensive manhunt in U.S. history, but it turned up nothing. Police also released the serial numbers of the ransom money but none was ever found. Aside from the items left on the plane, the only possible physical evidence ever discovered includes a set of instructions on how to lower the aft stairs on a 727, found in the woods by a deer hunter near Castle Rock, WA, and three sets of bills that were discovered along the Columbia River in 1980. The bills were confirmed to be from the ransom money but none of the other 9,710 remaining bills have ever been located, not even in normal circulation. The FBI announced in 2007 that a partial DNA sample was pulled from the clip-on tie but it could have come from many different people. As the investigation is still ongoing, it is possible that the FBI has other evidence they have not released.
If Cooper did parachute down, none of the pilots in the escort planes saw it happen and many believe that he would not have survived the jump in the first place, considering that he would have had to jump into a 200 mph wind at -70 oF. Long lists of suspects have been generated, interrogated and examined but none of them have proven to have any ties to the mysterious crime. The hijacking of Northwest Airlines Flight 305 by “D. B. Cooper” remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history, a curious event still remembered by 1188 Brewing Company’s D. B. Cooper Hefeweizen.
From the Brewer: A summertime favorite, this double-berry Hefeweizen, with its rich, ruby color, will make you feel like you got away with a treasure. This is a light, crisp, fruity beer without being too sweet and still has the traditional Hefeweizen spiciness. Don’t forget your parachute! ABV 5.5%
Jeremy Adair - Founder & Head Brewer, Shannon Adair - Founder & Pub Manager, Ken & Jennifer Brown - Founders, John Spencer - Brewer