"Man Leaps from Plane with $200,000 Ransom"
Man leaps from plane with $200,000 ransom By RUSSELL NIELSEN RENO, Nev. [vfD—A man collected $200,000 ransom and escaped by parachute from an airliner Wednesday night in the most bizarre of all the airliner hijackings. F'BI and law enforcement agents were searching for a middle-aged, swarthy man who gave the name of D. B. Cooper, when he boarded the jetliner at Portland, Ore. He was believed to have parachuted from the rear door of a Northwest Airlines 727 jetliner somewhere between Seattle and Reno. The ransom, turned over to the middle- aged hijacker when he released 35 passengers in Seattle, was the largest ever paid in a U. S. plane hijack. His parachute escape over the western wilderness was a nearly unbelievable feat that baffled authorities. Officials were checking a report that Cooper was an experienced "smoke jumper" parachute fire fighter. The "very relaxed" hijacker flashed what appeared to be a bomb on a flight from Portland, Ore., to Seattle late Wednesday. He let the passengers off at Seattle after being handed a bag containing $200,000 and four parachutes. But when it arrived at 11 p.m. (PST), with its back door open, the hijacker was not aboard. Police Lt. Charles Williams said officers had received a report that the hijacker was observed "sitting on the back steps" as the plane rolled along the runway. The pilot, Capt. W. "Bill" Scott, said the hijacker had locked a door betwecjn the cabin and the back compartment and he did not know whether the hijacker had parachuted during the trip. Pilots of two Air Force planes shadowing the hijacked craft reported they had seen no one jump. The $200,000 ransom was beUeved to be the largest ever paid to a plane hijacker in the United States. One parachute of the four loaded on at Seattle was missing. The other three were still aboard at Reno. Scott and three other hostage crewmen, including one stewardess, were all safe. Police with dogs fanned out across the runway in a search for the hijacker. The crew, which also included flight officers W. "Bob" Rataczak and H. E. Anderson and Stewardess Tina Mucklow, helped search the plane for the hijacker or the ransom money. Stewaraesses Alice Hancock and Florence Schaffner left the plane at Seattle. Coaxt Guard stations along the Pacific Coast were on the alert and a spokesman said, "If he jumps, we'll go find him." . The hijacker asked the pilot just before takeoff from Seattle whether the plane could fly with its rear door open. The pilot told him no. The plane. Flight 305, originally took off from Washington, DC, and made stops at Minneapolis, Minn.; Great Falls, Mont.; Missoula, Mont.; Spokane, Wash., and Portland. Before landing at Seattle the plane circled for about twp hours while airport personnel cleared a section of the field and Northwest officials obtained the $200,000. The man told the pilot that everyone would be killed if his demands were not met. Passengers described him as "very , relaxed" before the hijack, which went off so smoothly that many aboard were not aware what had happened until the plane landed at Seattle. The pilot told the hijacker that the plane could not carry enough fuel for a non stop trip to Mexico. While the plane was parked at Seattle, an FAA official tried unsuccessfully to talk the man out of the hijacking. Obviously frustrated, officials said, the hijacker finally told the pilot, "Let's get this show on the road." In describing how the hijack started, FBI Agent in Charge J. E. Milnes of Seattle said: "He approached a stewardess and gave her a note and then told her to sit beside him. He then dictated that he had a bomb and wanted $200,000," The hijacker also told her that'he wanted "two chest and two back parachutes." Milnes said the stewardess told him she saw what appeared to be a bomb —"red cylinders with wiring." Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Finegold, •one of the passengers, said he was not aware of the hijack until the plane landed at airport. He said the crew only said "there were some minor difficulties."