I disagree Georger. Unless Cooper could jump, he was certain to be captured. I believe he knew he could jump the 727. I was a skydiver and an aviation buff in 71. Jumping unusual planes was an interest. It never occurred to me that a 727 was jumpable. I'd have expected door interlocks to prevent inadvertent depressurization, perhaps controlled by squat switches in the landing gear oleos so that a pressurized 727 on the ground could quickly deploy the stairs if needed in an emergency. I'd also have expected a rather severe pitch down moment from an air stair deployed into the airstream during flight, perhaps beyond the ability of elevator trim to allow for yoke neutral level flight.
Sure, ignorant idiots jumped from jets and landed safely, but Cooper left clues that distinguished him from these lucky Whuffos. He gave specifics: flap settings, pressurization command, landing gear configuration, altitude limit. All designed for slow flight and plenty of ambient oxygen in the depressurized cabin. I think Cooper knew that 727s were jumpable. The number of people who had that knowledge in 1971 was small. The pilots and FE didn't know. NWA flight ops didn't know. Boeing did know and it wasn't an educated guess. It was based on knowledge from extensive flight tests allegedly financed by the US govt who wanted the ability to use the 727 for covert airdrops.
I think Sheridan Peterson may have known this from his work at Boeing in tech documentation. Ted Braden may have known it from having be in special ops in Viet Nam. I bet the list of people with this knowledge who also had the skills to make the jump is small.
Could Cooper have been an ignorant lucky Whuffo? Yes. Do I think he was? Nope.
(This post was edited by 377 on Oct 19, 2012, 8:21 AM)