On Thanksgiving eve 1971, Dan Cooper purchased a one-way plane ticket on Flight 305, which was headed for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Witnesses on the flight recalled that Cooper was formally dressed in a black business suit and carrying a matching colored briefcase.
Once the plane had taken off, Cooper stealthily began his hijacking attempt. He passed on a folded note to Florence Schaffner, a nearby stewardess who initially disregarded the message and stashed it in her purse. She finally read the note after Cooper whispered, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.” The note itself read, “Miss, I have a bomb in my briefcase. I want you to sit beside me.”
When Cooper opened up his black briefcase, Schaffner saw that Cooper came equipped with a bomb. Cooper also asked for four total parachutes and $200,000 in ransom.
“He was very smart. He didn’t order one or two. He ordered four. He thought they were gonna dummy up a parachute on him, so he’d die,” said Tom Colbert, author of the 2021 novel “The Last Master Outlaw.”
“But if he’s ordering four, ‘He’s taking a hostage. We can’t dummy him up.’ Very smart, brilliant.”
Schaffner then showed the note to the pilot in command, William A. Scott, who landed the plane in Seattle, allowing all the passengers on board to get off safely. Per Cooper’s request, the flight then took off again, now with four crew members, including Captain Scott. The flight was en route to Mexico City but before Scott could land the plane, Cooper secured his bag full of stolen cash and jumped out the back exit using one of his parachutes.
Cooper’s last recorded message was a simple “No,” which was said in response to the pilots via the cabin phone.