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On November 24, 1971, the day before Thanksgiving, a man walks into the terminal at Portland International Airport. Giving his name as Dan Cooper, he pays with cash for a seat on a Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727 jet scheduled to make the quick flight from Portland up to Seattle.

A 1972 FBI composite drawing of “D. B. Cooper” who disappeared fifty years ago, on November 24, 1971, after hijacking a Boeing 727 and parachuting from the plane aft stairs.

Thus begins one of the strangest and most fascinating crimes in American history, a crime that remains unsolved til this day.In this special edition of Reading the Globe, AudioHopper presents “The D.B. Cooper Mystery at 50.”

Michael Washburn takes us deep into a true crime thriller in which a pseudonymous man extorted $200,000 in ransom and parachuted into thin air over southwestern Washington State. He was never conclusively spotted again, dead or alive. After interviewing nearly 1000 suspects over 30 years, the crime remains, according to New York magazine, “the only skyjacking in the world that has gone unsolved.”

In this special feature featuring archival audio, much of the record is corrected, including the legend that “Cooper” left nothing behind. In fact, he did—his clip-on tie (and tie pin), among other items. The author also makes a powerful case that the skyjacker may have been Canadian.

Was he eaten? Where’s the parachute? How did a young boy find $3000 of the ransom money? Why are some of the possible subjects buying cars with cash and making death-bed confessions? What the hell happened?

At 50, the case still fascinates all true-crime junkies. Washburn, an expert on the case, presents a reasoned analysis of every possible known subject and presents a compelling case for one of them being the skyjacker. It’s the perfect holiday listen.

By Michael Washburn

Michael Washburn is a Brooklyn-based writer and journalist. He is the author of the short story collections Scenes from the Catastrophe (2016), The Uprooted and Other Stories (2018), When We're Grownups (2019), and Stranger, Stranger (2020). Michael's story "Confessions of a Spook" won Causeway Lit's 2018 fiction contest.