Review – DB Cooper: Where Are You? is Fascination of Hijacker
Perhaps the only thing more mythologized in America than the self-made success story is the charismatic outlaw, and this is true for everyone from Jesse James and John Dillinger to Bonnie and Clyde. To a greater extent than most, that applies to the legendary DB Cooper. No one has been able to identify, let alone apprehend, the man who, more than fifty years ago, parachuted into the night with a $200,000 ransom after hijacking a passenger airliner.
This new four-part Netflix documentary series delves deeply into the “holy grail of cold cases,” a case that has baffled FBI officials for decades, captivated amateur sleuths, and produced everything from themed bars and apparel lines to escape rooms and conventions.
The interesting thing about this myth is that it all stems from a span of time that spans only a few hours on November 24th, 1971. The back of a bag of aeroplane peanuts would be a sufficient size to list all of the information currently known about Cooper. The only information we have is that he disembarked somewhere over the American west, that he was well-dressed and polite (witnesses said he quietly told a stewardess he was carrying a bomb), and that he was seen by others.
Due to the lack of hard evidence, the show focuses on the theories put forth by amateur investigators, the most notable of which is Tom Colbert, who has amusingly and alarmingly invested more of his own money into uncovering “the truth” than Cooper ever stole. Obviously, this was not a profitable venture.
Several characters on “Cooper” have said at some point, “Once you are sucked in, you can not escape.” But just like a joke, the more you analyse this riddle and exaggerate its complexity, relevance, and excitement, the less fun it becomes. When we witness a physicist calculate the jump’s trajectory or follow up with Colbert and his team as they pursue one slightly credible suspect, the story, which starts out as a quirky, jauntily recounted caper, loses all its charm.
Sometimes, when the show stops asking “where is Cooper?” and starts asking “why are people so taken with him?”, it becomes far more interesting to watch. Or, more to the point, why they feel compelled to spend their entire lives trying to prove that the man in question was a CIA agent, a transgender librarian, or — horrors! — a French Canadian. It is little wonder Cooper never bothered to come forward with the truth about himself, given all the rumours and speculation that have circulated over the years.