Cable’s History channel debuts the new Laurence Fishburne-hosted series “History’s Greatest Mysteries” with a two-hour episode devoted to a search for clues in the infamous case of skyjacker D.B. Cooper.
The program (9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14) begins by retracing the story of the 1971 hijacking of Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 out of Portland. A man identifying himself as Cooper, wearing a dark suit and black tie, showed a supposed bomb to a flight attendant. After the plane landed in Seattle, the passengers deplaned and Cooper’s demand for $200,000 was granted, along with four parachutes. The plane took off again heading south and Cooper, donning a parachute, jumped out of the plane and into the night, never to be seen again.
“The Final Hunt for D.B. Cooper” follows Arizona entrepreneur and Cooper mystery enthusiast Eric Ulis as he stages a new effort in his private investigation of the Cooper mystery that began 13 years ago. (The FBI closed the case in 2016.)
In a phone interview this month, Ulis says “The Final Hunt” was mostly filmed in December 2019 and completed in April. It was shot in several Washington locations, including Graham, Pierce County, and near Vancouver, Clark County.
Ulis posits that the FBI’s search area in 1971 was too far east — that the FBI’s guesstimate of the plane’s flight path was off. Ulis mounts a search of wooded areas along the Washington-Oregon border, looking for pieces of the parachute Cooper could have left behind almost 50 years ago. (For amateur sleuths seeking closure to the Cooper case, despite the episode’s use of the term “Final Hunt,” it’s worth noting the show’s title is not “History’s Greatest Mysteries Solved.”)
“The Final Hunt” also engages in some DNA examination based on particles pulled off Cooper’s tie, which Ulis says the FBI allowed scientist Tom Kaye to examine in 2008 and 2011. The filter of a small vacuum used in the tie examination revealed DNA that may or may not belong to Cooper. Ulis has that DNA compared to DNA from Peterson’s daughter that was provided by Peterson’s ex-wife.
Since production on “Final Hunt” ended, Ulis says “there’s quite a bit that’s transpired” but he declined to offer details.
“Even though we don’t have a complete puzzle here, I do believe we have enough pieces of the puzzle,” Ulis says. “Eventually this case will be solved.”
The History channel isn’t the only one with a show about Cooper. “The Mystery of D.B. Cooper,” a documentary featuring the stories of four people believed by their friends and family to be Cooper, airs on HBO at 9 p.m. Nov. 25, and streams on HBO Max starting on that date.