D. B. Cooper exhibit opens at downtown Tacoma museum

The Washington State History Museum has turned its attention toward one of America’s greatest unsolved mysteries by opening its latest exhibit over the weekend.

“Cooper” focuses on the infamous skyjacker D. B. Cooper, who boarded a plane at Portland International Airport one November day in 1971 and leapt into infamy. The exhibit explores how his skyjacking changed the course of aviation design and passenger safety and incorporates never-before-seen artifacts, first-person accounts and FBI documents to help recreate the fateful November day. Visitors may also experience air travel in the 1970s via a recreated Boeing 727 cabin and cockpit, and study the science of skydiving, forensics and commercial aircraft design.

Exhibit highlights include a photograph of the boarding pass issued to Cooper after he paid $20 on Nov. 24, 1971 to board Northwest Airlines flight 305 to Seattle; marked twenty dollar bank notes discovered in 1980 on the banks of the Columbia River and later verified as being from the $200,000 in ransom paid to Cooper; the clip-on tie and tie-tack worn by Cooper during the flight; and one of four parachutes provided to Cooper as part of his demands.

The museum unveiled the exhibit with a members’ gala and preview on Friday, followed by a grand opening celebration on Saturday that included behind-the-scene tours led by exhibit curators, a parachute expert and professional stuntman who demonstrated what it was like to jump out of a Boeing 727 at night, and an investigator who presented information on his search for Cooper.

The exhibit runs through Jan. 5, 2014. More information is available online at washingtonhistory.org.