Strangely Consistent

Theory, practice, and languages, braided together

November 24 2009 — a sort of leap of faith

38 years ago today, a plane hijacker who called himself Dan Cooper parachuted from an Boeing 727 airplane over Washington state, and was never seen again. With him, he had US$200,000 of ransom money.

The nature of Cooper's escape and the uncertainty of his fate continue to intrigue people. The Cooper case (code-named "Norjak" by the FBI) is the only unsolved U.S. aircraft hijacking, and one of the few such cases anywhere in the world, along with Malaysia Airlines Flight 653.

The Cooper case has baffled government and private investigators for decades, with countless leads turning into dead ends. [...]

Despite the case's enduring lack of evidence, a few significant clues have arisen. In late 1978 a placard containing instructions on how to lower the aft stairs of a 727, later confirmed to be from the rear stairway of the plane from which Cooper jumped, was found just a few flying minutes north of Cooper's projected drop zone. In February 1980 on the banks of the Columbia River, eight-year-old Brian Ingram found $5,880 in decaying $20 bills, which proved to be part of the original ransom.

As one jumps from a hijacked plane, holding a large amount of money, what goes through one's mind? Especially if one jumps the way he did. Whether he made it or not, that must have been quite a day.

Today should be Temporal Tuesday, but for some reason I don't really have it in me to hack on dates and times today. I will have to find some other date and time for that. Maybe a Themporal Thursday this week instead.

Instead I'll mention Jason Felds (Wolfman2000++), who asked today for suggestions of what to do with a few hours of free time. I suggested November, gave him a commit bit, which he ran off with. Thanks to him we now have a more correct URI matcher, a FAQ link in the sidebar, and the beginnings of a way to register as a user on the wiki.

It was a joy to watch. My small contribution today can perhaps be said to consist in gently guiding Wolfman2000 along and commenting on the commits, but most of the work he did himself. And, if I'm to take mst++ at his word, that's worth more than everything else.