The D.B. Cooper Airplane
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!