That was the last anybody saw of Cooper. Authorities don't even know whether that was his real last name. The name he provided when he bought his airline ticket was Dan Cooper. After the skyjacking, a newspaper reported that police had interviewed an Oregon man named D.B. Cooper, who turned out to be the wrong man, but the name stuck. Cooper made it to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.
"This is a guy who tweaked Uncle Sam's nose and appears to have gotten away with it," said retired FBI agent Ralph Himmelsbach, trying to explain Cooper's folk-hero status. Himmelsbach, who once headed the investigation, said that although Cooper broke the law, he didn't hurt anyone -- except probably himself. Himmelsbach said Cooper jumped from 10,000 feet into a minus 7 degree temperature -- 69 degrees below zero with wind chill -- wearing "a business suit and slip-on loafers.... It's a long shot he survived."
In February 1980, an 8-year-old boy picnicking with his family along the Columbia River found a muddy wad of $20 bills totaling $5,800. Authorities confirmed the money had been part of Cooper's loot. The find corroborated the theory that Cooper was dead at the bottom of the river, but others speculated that he was clever enough to have placed the money in the river as a diversion.