There’s a little shop in northeast Portland where you can put down a few bucks for a “Parachutin’ D.B. Cooper Action Figure.” You attach the little parachute to the wooden skyjacker and toss the toy off a roof or out a window. Then you can do what the FBI spent more than 40 years trying and failing to do.
That is, you can — as the action figure’s packaging puts it – “Find D.B. Cooper!”
Eric Ulis doesn’t promise you’ll come upon the famed skyjacker on his one-weekend-only D.B. Cooper Boat Tour. But he’ll provide an in-depth overview of the case as you ride a pontoon boat out to Tena Bar, the out-of-the-way Columbia River sandbar where more than $5,000 of Cooper’s ransom haul was found in 1980.
In case you’re new to the only unsolved skyjacking case in U.S. history: A man calling himself Dan Cooper commandeered Northwest Orient Flight 305 after it took off from Portland on Nov. 24, 1971. He picked up $200,000 and a couple of parachutes in Seattle in exchange for the plane’s passengers, and then, somewhere over the Northwest’s lush forest canopy, he jumped out of the low-flying Boeing 727.
He was never found — and the FBI closed the unsolved case in 2016.
What happened to D.B. Cooper? Ulis, after years of self-funded investigation, believes he knows. (In fact, he’s talked to the man he’s “98 percent” sure is the skyjacker.)
But the D.B. Cooper Boat Tour isn’t about Ulis, a Phoenix-based entrepreneur, promoting his theory of the case. “It will be fact-based and not suspect-specific,” he told The Oregonian.
Ulis is convinced that “the root of this mystery is in the flight path” that Flight 305 took after Cooper scored the money and parachutes in Seattle. He says you’ll be able to see the actual path the plane took from the pontoon boat during the tour.
Want a preview of Ulis as tour guide? He offers a “Daily D.B. Cooper Bite” on YouTube.
The 90-minute boat tour, leaving from 11505 N.E. Yacht Harbor Drive in Portland, will take place Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23. Four departures are scheduled each day: 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets are $35.