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The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Don Shanks (
Date: February 23, 2002 09:34PM

Ronnie Macklin, the keeper of much of Piedmont's great history, provides us with the following Piedmont trivia!

On November 24, 1971, passenger D. B. Cooper, aboard a Northwest Airlines flight, hijacked the airplane. He was given a $200,000 ransom when he threatened to detonate a bomb. Cooper then parachuted from the plane with the $200,000 and was never heard from again! The plane's pilot was William "Scotty" Scott and he died this week of prostate cancer, in Green Valley, Arizona, at the age of 81.

Piedmont Airlines bought the airplane from Northwest. At Northwest it was numbered N407US. Piedmont renumbered it as N838N and flew it in passenger service. The plane was eventually retired and later leased to Pratt & Whitney who flew it after placing a plaque in the front of the plane stating that it was the plane from which D. B. Cooper parachuted. Piedmont later sold the airplane and Key Airlines renumbered it as N29KA.

Piedmont sold the airplane in September 1984. After we sold it, Ronnie says there were many aviation historians trying to trace it. They wanted to know if it was the "real one"! There were many people claiming that they had the airplane and that led to much confusion.

Ronnie says that there is an entry in the log book in N838N about the hijacking and the bail out through the rear steps of the Boeing 727. After this particular hijacking, the airlines moved quickly to prevent the opening of the 727 steps from the inside of the plane. A “vane”, (an air foil) was installed on the outside of the airplane just to the left of the air stairs as you enter the 727 through the rear steps. After takeoff the wind would hit the “vane” pushing it up and locking the air stairs preventing them from be opened while in flight. A very simple - - but very effective fix. After Cooper, there were no hijackings that used the rear steps of the 727 to jump from the plane.

Ronnie says that the airplane was scrapped for parts in January 1993.

The plane’s parts, probably like D. B. Cooper’s “parts”, are scattered around the world! Is it possible that the two of them. . . . . . naw! . . . . .well maybe!

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Carl Crumley (
Date: February 23, 2002 09:35PM

A friend of mine (who'll remain anonymous) sent me this further information on D. B. Cooper:

"The guy who paid the ransom for Northwest was named John Ahlquist and was a middle manager with NW. He had to walk out to the airplane buck naked with the money bag his only protection from the elements. Anyway, John ended up as my boss at Airline X for a while, which led directly to my retirement from the airline. I did, however, come to understand why he was chosen to carry the ransom to Dan Cooper on the airplane. I am convinced that his bosses secretly hoped the hijacker would shoot him."

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Steve Lyons (
Date: August 24, 2002 06:09AM

I saw a picture of that 727-100 online last night.
And the story advised that the aircraft has since been cut up for beer cans!
What a tremendous waste!
Only to own ONE of those jets in good flying order.

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Jim Tyner (
Date: November 13, 2002 09:16AM

838N was pulled off the line for a while and leased to Flight Dynamics to certify the HUD (heads up display) for the B-727. I remember it coming back to the line and I flew at least one DEN trip with it as F/O. What a great old airplane it was!

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Bill Morgan (
Date: November 22, 2002 03:21PM

Dear Don,
I flew the D. B. Cooper airplane to Denver one day with a flight attendent named Kim Loft. I told her we were making history and ask her if we should tell the passengers. After I explained that we were on the D.B. Cooper aircraft and reminded her she was the daugther of Captain Loft of flight "401" fame, she hell no, "you"ll scare them to death Bill." By the way she was a sweetheart.

Capt. Bill Morgan

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Date: March 26, 2005 02:03AM


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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: want2bhapywU (
Date: April 25, 2005 01:40AM

I flew as a f/a on that A/c many times....
As I recall.. and my memory fails me a lot!!

As the story goes... DB Cooper carved his initals on the rear
tail door of that 727-100 a/c... before jumping ......
I don't know who owned the aircraft at that time...
(if someone knows that would be great...)
Then DB Cooper bailed with his ransome....

Piedmont placed a plack over his initals.... and
I remember flying it many times... it was so neat..!
Like a folk tail... that really never happened...

I watched a story on the news a few years ago
saying that he did not live and it is still a great
folk tale...

Yes... As I heard the A/c is now junked and now
not around..

too ashamed.....!!

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Ronnie Macklin (
Date: April 26, 2005 03:00PM

The original owner of the D. B. Cooper airplane was Northwest and then to Piedmont. It was leased from Piedmont by Flight Dynamics and also leased to Pratt and Whitney. At that time we were doing the heavy maintenance on Pratt and Whitney's long range B-737 and were about to take over their B-727 but management decided to do away with Business Aircraft.

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Chip (
Date: May 02, 2005 04:31AM

Another strange postscript about the D.B. Cooper hijacking in November 1971-- flight attendant Tina Mucklow, who was detained aboard this 727 throughout the ordeal by the hijacker (whose real name was alleged not to be D.B. Cooper), eventually became a nun. Her whereabouts are not known by the general public.

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Jo Weber (
Date: August 04, 2005 06:03AM

Shawn Demonica --- I am the woman whose husband confessed to being Cooper 11 days before he died. His history and background tend to support this. I have done 10 yrs. of research on him and the Skyjacking and can answer most questions you might have, but prefer to do so thru private email. If your mother had a story to tell about your father then if she is still living I need to talk to her. How old are you? I am still looking for his daughter --- Zona is all I know. Her mothers name is Edna and I believe they were Mormons.

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: Pam Horton (
Date: December 05, 2005 03:42AM

I flew many, many trips on the D.B. Cooper airplane. As I recall, it was N838N. We got it from Northwest.

One of our now retired F/As, Barbara Johnson, had a whole spiel she told the passengers about the history of the airplane and D.B. Cooper. Some of the passengers were delighted with her spiel. Some of them had no idea what she was talking about. And, some of them were clearly alarmed. Barbara loved telling the passengers about that airplane and they did learn a little airline history in the process.

Reading about that airplane brings up a lot of memories of flights that operated ORF-CLT-IAH roundtrip, and ORF-CLT-DFW roundtrip.

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: James Alexander (
Date: January 18, 2006 05:15PM

Somewhere I have some pictures of N838N while it was in INT for final checks before being sold. I thought it would be cool to have some photos of the "D.B.Cooper airstairs" in their extended position. I'll try to dig them out.

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: ChristopherHaskell (
Date: August 21, 2009 04:21PM

It was my privilege to play the role of the late William "Scotty" Scott in a well done, very well directed National Geographic film, "The Skyjacker That Got Away." Thanks for your posts re: this; you can imagine it's of considerable interest and if anyone wants to touch bases, please go ahead. It was July-August 2009 when the film debuted; there's a DVD available. I'm sure there are people in these posts who'd find this interesting.
Chris Haskell, Los Angeles

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Re: The D.B. Cooper Airplane
Posted by: David2010gp (
Date: May 08, 2010 03:26AM

Don Shanks - Is is not true that Dan Cooper was the last man to jump from a moving 727. In 1972 Richard Floyd McCoy successfully completed a jump from a 727 with half a million dollars. He was the last one to do so. Shortly after this the modifications were implemented that prevented the stairs from being opened while in flight.

Chip - Tina Mucklow's real name was not DB Cooper. This is rediculous. She was 22 at the time and had never changed her name.

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