The Strange Connection Between D.B. Cooper And Mt. St. Helens' Eruption

D.B. Cooper is the name given to the man famous for being responsible for one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the United States. According to Crime Museum, D.B. Cooper boarded a flight headed to Seattle, Washington on November 24th, 1971. During the flight, he handed a flight attendant a note stating that he had a bomb and demanded $200,000 in cash and two sets of parachutes. The plane landed in Seattle, where Cooper was given the money and parachutes and passengers were let off. 

After passengers were allowed to de-board the plane, D.B. Cooper demanded to be taken to New Mexico. During the trip, he jumped from the plane using one of the parachutes and taking the bag of money with him. The FBI quickly opened an investigation to find the mysterious D.B. Cooper. While over 800 suspects have been considered over the last 50 years, there has been no conclusive evidence as to the real identity of the man who pulled off this impressive crime (via the FBI).

D.B. Cooper jumped from the plane near Mt. St. Helens

In 1980, a young boy found a package containing $20 bills that were falling apart in a wooded area near where D.B. Cooper was thought to have possibly landed. The money, totaling $5,800, had serial numbers matching that of the ransom money in the D.B. Cooper case (via the FBI). This helped narrow down the possible location of where he jumped and may have landed, but no more evidence in the form of the missing money or a body has been found since. 

The carefully-crafted plane hijacking of D.B. Cooper took place nine years before Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980 (via the United States Geological Survey). Interestingly, the area he is thought to have landed in is less than 100 miles from Mt. St. Helens. While this is most likely a coincidence, the legend of D.B. Cooper brought the area an influx of tourism in the years following the 1971 crime.

A local business owner used D.B. Cooper to garner business after the eruption

After the Mt. St. Helens eruption, businesses in the area were negatively impacted. As Dave Fisher, owner of the Ariel Store and Tavern, put it, "we lost the whole summer (of business) as a result of the volcano and then two years of hunting and fishing after that," (via the Chicago Tribune). While tourism in the area slowed, one constant that remained was Fisher's D.B. Cooper Party, which is held annually in Ariel, Washington on the anniversary of the hijacking. 

Though Dave Fisher retired in the 1980s, the tradition of the D.B. Cooper Party lives on. According to National Today, the store that started the tradition was closed down years ago, but talks of reopening the shop have circulated since 2019. While we may never know if D.B. Cooper got away with his meticulously planned crime, the hijacking has helped bring interest back to an area that was devastated by the Mt. St. Helens eruption.