The Sideshow

Did D.B. Cooper publish his own memoir?

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Did D.B. Cooper publish his own memoir? Image credit: OregonLive.com

This week marks the 40th anniversary of D.B. Cooper's infamous "skyjacking" of a Northwest Airlines jet for $200,000--and Cooper's no-less-infamous vanishing act in the wake of the caper.

Every few years a new lead in the case emerges, only to disappear into legend like Cooper himself. Pacific Northwest author Matt Love recently created a new ripple in the seemingly endless cache of fascinating Cooper trivia. Love has unearthed a rare book from an Oregon publisher that claims to be the memoir of Cooper himself:

In 1983, a publisher from Jefferson called Signum Books Ltd. released a 330-page book titled "HA-HA-HA." The cover features a drawing of a man in a suit holding a briefcase while parachuting from a commercial jetliner. The back cover features a graphic of a certificate announcing a contest called "Your Big Score." The certificate's first sentence reads: "It's true. In this book are seven clues. By reading it carefully and discovering the clues, one could receive as much as $200,000 in twenty dollar bills."  The book's author is D.B. Cooper.

In an interview with The Sideshow, Love says that whoever actually penned the book is a talented writer and that its narrative voice certainly fits the Cooper persona. "Who knows what really happened with this story? That's why it's still in play. We don't know," Love wrote in an email. "Why not write a book about it? He seemed like an artistic sort of guy with the shades and the whiskey and the cigarettes. Maybe he was a writer!"

In "HA-HA-HA," the author purporting to be Cooper recounts his hardscrabble life prior to the hijacking. He explains how he floundered as a failed real estate developer, boozer and petty thief. He also gives specific details about how he pulled off the hijacking and escaped after parachuting from the Northwest Airlines flight with the $200,000 ransom in tow. (One key advantage, he says, was having the foresight to rent a house and a car near where he landed). The author of the Cooper memoir claims that he later invested his ransom money in Boeing and became quite wealthy as a result.

However, Love notes that the most interesting part of the memoir is a series of mysterious clues that offer the location of Cooper's ransom to a lucky reader studious enough to piece together the clues.

Love says that regardless of who penned this mysterious and rare book, he personally believes Cooper survived his ordeal and will one day own up to his legend. "The story is pure rock and roll," Love said. "He jumped out of an airplane at 200 miles an hour and into the woods! With 200 grand he'd extorted from the government! And he didn't hurt anyone. I think a lot of us wish we could do something this ballsy in our lives. All of us want to. He did. And I really think he is alive and living a quiet life in the Northwest. One day, he'll come forward."

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