More than 100,000 people visited a website in the past week to review newly obtained evidence related to the November 1971 hijacking of a Northwest Orient Airlines plane by “D.B. Cooper.”
The amateur scientists who built the website – citizensleuths.com – say they’ve received hundreds of tips in the days since KING 5’s January 13 story about the new evidence.
Some of the leads “seem to have legs,” according to lead researcher Tom Kaye.
Kaye and his two collaborators culled new evidence from the clip-on necktie left behind by Cooper after he parachuted out of the 727 airliner somewhere over southwestern Washington.
A powerful electron microscope identified 100,000 particles from the JCPenny Towncraft tie, including Tungsten, pure titanium, stainless steel and Cerium.
Kaye says these materials could indicate that Cooper worked in high tech manufacturing in the 1970s, possibly as a manager or engineer who was required to wear a tie to work.
In the January 13 story, Kaye asked KING 5 viewers with knowledge of Pacific Northwest high-tech industries in the 1970s to review citizensleuths.com to review lists of materials found on Cooper’s tie.
Kaye speculated that Cooper worked on Boeing’s Super Sonic Transport plane, which may have used the rare metals found on the tie.
Recent tips have led the team to examine monitors and oscilloscopes that were produced by long-time manufacturer Techtronix in Portland.
Kaye says phosphorus and other materials on the tie could be evidence of the manufacture of what would have been state-of-the art cathode ray tubes (CRT) in 1971. Kaye said the materials are not what would have been found in standard CRTs in the television sets of the day, but might have been used for radar monitors or other high-tech applications.
The FBI closed the unsolved skyjacking case last year, unable to identify the man who boarded a Portland-to-Seattle flight calling himself “Dan Cooper” (the name was later misreported as “D.B.”).
Cooper claimed he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded parachutes and $200,000 to be handed over when the plane landed at SeaTac airport. When the FBI complied, the plane took off again headed south. Cooper bailed out of the 727’s aft staircase, while the flight crew was locked in the aircraft’s cockpit.
In 2009, the FBI allowed Kaye’s team to examine evidence in the case. The team lifted 20 “stubs” of material from Cooper’s tie for microscopic examination. At that time the group identified pure titanium particles in the samples.
Nineteen of the stubs remained unexamined until the Travel Channel show “Expedition Unknown” paid a Chicago lab last year to analyze and identify the materials under a sophisticated electron microscope.
Anyone with information about the materials identified can reach the Cooper research team at citizensleuths.com/contact.html.
-- Follow Chris Ingalls on Twitter @CJIngalls.