D. B. Cooper in popular culture

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A 1972 FBI composite drawing of D. B. Cooper

D. B. Cooper (aka Dan Cooper) is an alias of an aircraft hijacker who, on November 24, 1971, after receiving a ransom payout of US$200,000, parachuted from the back of a Boeing 727 as it was flying over the Pacific Northwest of the United States somewhere over the Cascade Mountains, possibly over Woodland, Washington.[1] He was never seen again, and only $5,880 of the ransom has been found. The skyjacking continues to have an impact on popular culture, including references to or inspiration by Cooper in books, film, and music.[2] The original Ballad of D B Cooper was written by Washington state musician Richard Purdy in 1975 and was recorded in 1980 by Purdy and the Beaver Trail band. Purdy lived in Woodland Washington and was a regular performer at the Ariel Store and Tavern in Ariel Washington the home of the famous DB Cooper party. Purdy bought the tavern and carried the party on every year on the last weekend in November drawing thousands of people from around the world. Purdys ballad sold thousands of copies and was on every jukebox in the Pacific Northwest. Purdy and his band Cabin Fever performed the ballad on film for the movie trailer of the film about Cooper.


Cover of Elwood Reid's D.B.: a novel
  • James M. Cain's 1975 novel Rainbow's End is a fictional account of what might have happened to Cooper after he parachuted from the plane.
  • J.D. Reed's 1980 novel Free Fall was used as a basis for the 1981 film The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper.
  • Elwood Reid's 2004 novel D.B.: a novel[3] is a fictionalized account of what supposedly happened to the real Cooper in the years following the hijacking, as a pair of FBI agents attempt to pick up his trail and arrest him. In one edition, the book jacket cover featured artwork derived from the FBI composite sketch of the real Cooper.
  • The 1998 novel Sasquatch by Roland Smith features a character named Buckley Johnson, who eventually admits that he is D. B. Cooper to the novel's protagonist, a boy named Dylan Hickock. In this story, Johnson says he committed the hijacking to pay for cancer treatments for his son.
  • Greg Cox's novel, The 4400: The Vesuvius Prophecy features Cooper as one of The 4400.
  • The Skyjacker's Guide, or Please Hold This Bomb While I Go to the Bathroom, a humorous book inspired by the Cooper hijacking[4]
  • In Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption, narrator Red says that Andy Dufresne (the inmate played by Tim Robbins in the later movie) jokingly theorized that D. B. Cooper was really one of the other convicts who had escaped from the prison.
  • Jake Aurelian's 2011 book, Dead Wrestlers, Broken Necks & The Women Who Screwed Me Over: A Main Event of Photography & Fiction includes a short story entitled, "Shaving Rasputin: The Life & Times of Beck Shabang" wherein time traveler Beck Shabang travels back to 1971 and boards Flight 305 so he can "hang out" during the hijacking.

Film, TV, and radio[edit]

  • The short story Hijack (1972) by Robert Lloyd Fish was in part inspired by the D.B. Cooper hijacking. In 1981 this story was the basis of an episode of Tales of the Unexpected.
  • A 1973 television movie Deliver Us From Evil starring George Kennedy and Jan-Michael Vincent deals with a group of campers who encounter a hijacker who had parachuted out of a commercial airplane very similar to the D.B. Cooper case. However, the story is more related to how they begin to fight over the money on their way back to civilization.
  • A 1973 episode of the detective series Barnaby Jones starring Buddy Ebsen concerned a mystery about unrecovered ransom money from an airliner hijacking similar to the D.B. Cooper case.
  • A 1977 episode of Charlie's Angels (Season 2, Episode 6: Angel in Love) starring Kate Jackson (Sabrina) featured a love interest of Sabrina's who was "B.J. Smith", a hijacker inspired by D.B. Cooper.
  • A 1979 episode of the series In Search of... focused on D.B Cooper
  • The 1979 episode The Money Plague of Quincy M.E. featured the character of R.J. Collins who had used a phial of anthrax in his successful attempt at hijacking a plane.
  • In 1981 an adventure movie titled The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper was released starring Treat Williams as Cooper and Robert Duvall as an insurance investigator pursuing him. Based on J.D. Reed's 1980 novel Free Fall, it was directed by Roger Spottiswoode.
  • A 1982 episode of The Fall Guy (Season 1, Episode 17) starring Lee Majors featured a town terrorized by a mysterious quadriplegic named Gordon - a hijacker inspired by D.B. Cooper.
  • In 1988 an episode of Unsolved Mysteries focused on the skyjacker.[5]
  • In the 1990 television series Twin Peaks, the main character is named Dale Bartholomew Cooper, after D.B. Cooper.[6]
  • A 1995 episode of the television show Renegade titled "The Ballad of D.B Cooper" (Season 4, Episode 3) details how D.B. Cooper hijacks a plane, steals $200,000 and lands in a small town where he uses the money to reopen an old factory.
  • The television series NewsRadio featured a story arc (Season 5, Episodes 6-8 "Jail", "The Lam", and "Clash of the Titans", first broadcast in 1998) in which station owner Jimmy James is believed to be Cooper. James was arrested after a green duffel bag believed to have been Cooper's was found. At the trial, Adam West confesses he is Cooper and that James had covered up for him.[7]
  • A March 2000 segment of the comedy talk radio program The Phil Hendrie Show featured an interview with a former commercial airline pilot, Art Griego, who claimed to be a good friend of D.B. Cooper. In a January 2008 segment, Phil Hendrie and his guest, Dr. Jim Sadler, postulated that presidential candidate Ron Paul is actually D.B. Cooper.
  • Without a Paddle (2004): A group of three old friends (Matthew Lillard, Seth Green and Dax Shepard), go on a camping trip to search for the treasure of D. B. Cooper to honor their recently deceased friend. They eventually find it, along with the skeleton of Cooper, in an abandoned mine shaft. Half of the loot had been burned by Cooper himself to keep him warm, and Shepard's character took the remaining half to pay gambling debts.
  • In 2004 a special feature length FBI Files episode called "Flight from Justice - The Real Story Of D.B. Cooper" focused on the possibility that Richard McCoy, Jr. was D.B Cooper.
  • The television show Prison Break (2005-2009) featured a character who, after initially denying accusations, eventually admitted that he was D. B. Cooper. The character, played by Muse Watson, went by the name of Charles Westmoreland. According to the show, the amount of money he buried underneath a silo totaled approximately $5,000,000.
  • In Journeyman, the main character Dan Vasser travels back in time in the episode "The Legend of Dylan McCleen" which aired on October 22, 2007. The episode is about an U.S. Army Ranger who stole money very much in the style of D.B. Cooper.
  • In the April 2009 episode ("Better Call Saul"), in the second season of the TV series Breaking Bad, attorney Saul Goodman jokes that he has found D.B. Cooper when - in what would be their momentous first meeting - Walter White shows up in disguise.
  • In 2009 a documentary created by National Geographic Channel called The Skyjacker That Got Away focused on the skyjacker.
  • In 2009, the sixth season of Numb3rs, the tenth episode's central plot was a solution to the D.B. Cooper mystery, including the reasons for the hijacking plot and the final disposition of the money (alleged to be five times the reported amount by the episode) with Michael Hogan starring as the fictionalized Cooper.
  • The 12 July 2010 episode "Treasure" (#2.13) of the television series Zeke and Luther contains a reference to a D.B. Cooper-type lost treasure.
  • The January 6th, 2011 episode of Brad Meltzer's Decoded focused on D.B. Cooper.
  • In the May 3, 2011 episode of Drew Carey's Improv-A-Ganza, Ryan mentions that Drew had to parachute out of a plane and then says, "It's nice to meet you Mr. Cooper".
  • Cooper's parachute is mentioned in an episode of Warehouse 13 to be a "strange and wonderful" artifact contained in the Warehouse.
  • In the March 1st, 2012 episode of 30 Rock (Season 6, Episode 10), character Kenneth Parcell remarks that "All [his] suits are [his] late father's", then opens his suit jacket to reveal a sewed-in patch label, marked with the name "D.B. Cooper".
  • The August 26th, 2012 episode of Leverage (Season 5, Episode 6) titled "The D.B. Cooper Job" centers around the Leverage team working to help Agent McSweeten, who has come to them to look into the case that obsesses his dying father—the 1971 plane hijacking by D. B. Cooper.
  • Coincidentally, the very next day, the August 27th, 2012 episode of Pawn Stars (Season 5, Episode 55) titled "Some Like It Not" features a piece of one of the $20 bills stolen by D. B. Cooper. It was sold for $1,600.
  • In the September 24th, 2012 episode of Warehouse 13 (Season 4, Episode 9) titled "The Ones you Love", a fictional "artifact" version of D. B. Cooper's ripcord was used by Brent Spiner's character Brother Adrian to infiltrate The Warehouse.
  • In the January 24th, 2013 episode of Archer (Season 4, Episode 2) titled "The Wind cries Mary", a spy is hypothesized to have faked his own death in the manner of "Dr Cooper, Dr D. B. Cooper".


  • Within two weeks of the 1971 skyjacking, local Washington songstress Judy Sword produced a song, "D.B. Cooper: Where Are You?"[8]
  • In 1980, a California-based rock band called D.B. Cooper self-released their debut EP, Every Man A King. That same year, the group was signed to Warner Bros. Records and issued their debut album, Buy American. A second album, Dangerous Curves, followed in 1981.
  • Oregon-native singer-songwriter Todd Snider wrote and performed a song about the famous mystery titled "D. B. Cooper." It appears on his CD, Happy to Be Here, released in 2000.
  • Singer-songwriter Chuck Brodsky has a song titled "The Ballad of D. B. Cooper" on his 2006 CD, Tulips for Lunch.[9]
  • Roger McGuinn's self-titled 1973 solo album contains the song "Bag Full of Money" referring to Cooper's hijacking.
  • Indie rockers Everything is Fine feature two songs about Cooper, "Vapor Trails and Light" and "D.B. Cooper" on their 2005 album Ghosts Are Knocking on Walls on Ohio-based Tract Records.[10]
  • Rock band Senses Fail's CD, Life Is Not a Waiting Room features a song called "DB Cooper".
  • Ska/Punk band Victims of Circumstance's second album Roll the Dice features a track titled "The Final Flight of D.B. Copper" that details the hijacker's infamous crime.
  • Alternative rock band Streetside Symphony recorded a song about the events called "D. B. Cooper" on their album The Curse.
  • Cooper is mentioned in the song "Bawitdaba" by Kid Rock.
  • Post-hardcore band End of a Year released a song titled "Dan Cooper" on their 2008 split 7" single with Shook Ones, released on Runner Up Records. The song's coda features the line "I want you to sit next to me," echoing Cooper's instructions to flight attendant Florence Schaffner.
  • Cooper is also mentioned in the song "Hoe Cakes" by rapper MF DOOM, "Average emcees is like a TV blooper, MF Doom he's like D.B. Cooper/out with the moolah."
  • Australian deathcore band We Came From the Depths released a song titled "I Am D.B.Cooper" on their 2010 album Embracing The Abyss
  • Irish rock band Kopek released a song titled "The Easy Way (D.B Cooper)" on their debut album White Collar Lies in 2010.
  • Bill Mallonee's "The Ghosts that I Run With" is sung from the point of view of D. B. Cooper after years of hiding in the hills. It appears on Mallonee's 2011 release, "The Power and the Glory".[11](Mallonee was leader of alt-country band The Vigilantes of Love.)
  • Minnesota rap collective Doomtree mentions Cooper in the song ".38 Airweight" with the line, "Bang, hit deck, D.B. Cooper and Easy Jet".


A street artist poses as a living statue of Cooper at the Portland Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon.
  • Oni Press launched a series (based very loosely on Cooper) by cartoonist Brian Churilla titled The Secret History of D.B. Cooper in March 2012.[12]
  • The Far Side for May 3, 1988, featured a comic with the caption "The untold ending of D. B. Cooper", where he is shown landing on a rottweiler farm.[13]
  • The Dilbert strip for January 17, 1991, featured Dogbert showing visitors around his museum where he claims an exhibit, feet protruding from a tree stump with an umbrella and a back pack nearby, are the remains of D. B. Cooper.[2]
  • The community of Ariel in Cowlitz County, Washington, commemorates the incident with a celebration, held annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day, called "D. B. Cooper Days."[14]
  • The webcomic Milk for Dead Hamsters featured a strip on Aug 9, 2011 satirizing the FBI's failed attempt to capture D. B. Cooper.[15]
  • The webcomic Kevin and Kell features a character named Douglas Squirrel, an animal version of D. B. Cooper.
  • Dining and entertainment establishments under the name D. B. Cooper operate in Madison Heights, Michigan,[16] Kansas City, Missouri,[17] and Houston, Texas;[18] others in San Jose, California,[19] and Nashua, New Hampshire[20] have now closed.
  • From 1992 to 1999, the World FreeFall Convention offered experienced skydivers the opportunity to jump from a cargo configuration Boeing 727. The aft airstairs were removed on the ground prior to jump operations. In most years, the jet carried up to 180 jumpers who exited in two passes over the Quincy, Illinois airport. Jumpers could also be issued a DB Cooper number and accompanying certificate. A McDonell-Douglas DC-9 is now used in Perris, California for jet jumps, and this aircraft was also used at later Conventions.
  • In the 2008 video game Sam & Max, Dan B. Cooper is one of the famous missing persons found on Easter Island by way of the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Mixed Martial Artist Chael Sonnen claimed on Joe Rogan's podcast that he believed to know the identity of Cooper, and that he was a family friend (Sonnen is from West Linn, Oregon). He also claims that the publishers of his book excised his chapter talking about his beliefs because he refused to provide the name.
  • The webcomic xkcd suggested that Cooper might be director/actor Tommy Wiseau.[21]
  • D.B. Tuber is the name given to Anthony Curcio who was responsible for one of the most elaborately planned armored car heists in history.[22][23] He was given the name after stealing $400,000 and escaping on an inner tube.


  1. ^ LaBoe, Barbara (2008-01-01). "Search for D.B. Cooper 'reignited'". The Daily News. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  2. ^ Neil Hickey, Plane robbing still unsolved, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Australia), January 4, 2008
  3. ^ Reid, Elwood (2004). D.B.: a novel. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-49738-1. OCLC 52410839. 
  4. ^ Slatta, Richard W. (2001). The Mythical West: An Encyclopedia of Legend, Lore and Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-151-9. OCLC 47018405. 
  5. ^ http://www.sitcomsonline.com/unsolvedmysteries.html
  6. ^ Davis, Jeff; Al Eufrasio; Mark Moran (2008). Weird Washington. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-4027-4545-4. OCLC 179788749. 
  7. ^ http://epguides.com/newsradio/guide.shtml
  8. ^ The original Ballad of DB Cooper was written by Richard Purdy in 1975 and recorded in 1980 by Purdy and the Beaver Trail Boys a Portland band. Purdy was a local Washington musician living in Woodland Washington. Purdy and his band Cabin Fever were regular performers at the Ariel Store and Tavern home of the famous DB Cooper party. Purdy sold over ten thousand copies of the 45 single and it was on every jukebox in the Pacific Northwest. He bought the Ariel Tavern and carried on the party for as long as he owned the place. The current owners still have the party every year. Search for Skyjacked Bills Revives "D.B. Cooper" Song by Rolla J. Crick, Oregon Journal, December 13, 1973 per FBI D.B. Cooper Freedom of Information Act Index Part 7, p. 24
  9. ^ Chuck Brodsky
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ THE GHOSTS THAT I RUN WITH | Bill Mallonee
  12. ^ The Secret History of D.B. Cooper at Oni Press
  13. ^ Index to the Holdings of the Michigan State University Libraries Comic Art Collection, "Parachutes"
  14. ^ Jim Bates, Skulduggery by Parachute
  15. ^ The Hunt for D.B. - Milk for Dead Hamsters
  16. ^ 銀座カラー立川店 インターネットからのご予約はこちら【お申込み】
  17. ^ Scoot’s Complete Bar List | Living in the Scoot Utopia
  18. ^ D.B. Cooper'S Mansion, Houston, Tx
  19. ^ Metroactive Bars & Clubs | Liquid Lounge
  20. ^ http://www.dineinnewengland.com/review/hooters_review.htm
  21. ^ XKCD Comics #1400
  22. ^ Doughery, Phil. "D.B. Tuber". History Link. 
  23. ^ Esteban, Michelle. "D.B. Tuber dedicates life to warn others of dangers of drugs". KOMO news.