Jan 28, 2008, 12:50 PM
Post #1476 of 1694
Re: [Ckret] Popular Cooper Myths Debunked
[In reply to]
In reply to:
...... ...This next point is a crucial clue, Cooper did not care which flight path 305 took. In fact when they were on the ground in Seattle Cooper was told there was a delay in takeoff because the crew had to file their flight plan (this was after fueling but they were still having discussions on which was the best flight path).
Cooper's reply was, "It doesn't matter, they can file it in the air."
This is big! I am a pilot. Non-pilots would not be expected to know about flight plan filing procedures. Even some licensed pilots forget that you can file in the air.
Of course we are talking about an IFR (instrument flight rules) flight plan that has to be filed by every FAA Part 121 airliner, even if VFR (visual flight rules) conditions exist along the entire route of flight. A private aircraft can take off in VFR conditions and file an IFR in the air. But a pilot would know that in an emergency like a hijacking, ATC (air traffic control) would be able to route that aircraft right away.
Another interesting point. Victor Airways (as in V-23) are lower altitude airways although they often have IFR or Jet Airways superimposed on top of them at a higher altitude, usually starting above 17999 ft, MSL (above sea level). Now a Victor airway has a MSA, minimum safe altitude, that provides you with adequate ground clearance from obstacles like antennas and mountains. In the copy of the teletype that Ckret posted, Northwest Flights Operations told the crew that- “No terrain exceeds 8 thousand on that route of flight”. They then advise of a slightly higher altitude needed after Red Bluff VOR.
Now Cooper told the crew to fly at 10,000 ft. If he was a pilot he would know that this altitude would require the crew to fly V-23 because the mountains and volcanoes to the east of this line would be above this altitude. I don’t actually have the Low Enroute Chart for this area handy but I’ve flown between Seattle and Portland a few times. I could see the mountains to the east. From memory I remember flying in to Seattle from the southeast and having to stay at 14,000 ft until I cleared the mountain range.
So an altitude of 10,000 ft would automatically require the plane to take this or some other coastal route.
Now some people here have commented about it being cloudy and not being able to see the ground or the cities. Well at night, with clouds below you, you can se the glow of city lights. If you are familiar with an area you can tell almost exactly where you are. I flew out of Willow Run Airport in Michigan for years. Flying home along certain routes, when I got within 100 miles or less I could usually tell exactly where I was just by the glow of city lights from beneath low clouds. Heck, on a clear night at 41,000 ft I could see St. Louis and Chicago at the same time when I was between them. So it’s quite possible for a pilot familiar with the Seattle/Portland area to tell where he was at night with clouds below him.
1. Only a pilot would normally know about filing a flight plan in the air. 2. By telling the crew to fly at 10,000 ft you could reasonably expect to fly along V23 without overtly stating what route you wanted to be on. 3. For someone familiar with flying at night in that area it would be fairly easy to tell where you are in relation to Vancouver and Portland, even with low clouds and even by looking out the side windows. 4. If I recall correctly, Cooper bought his ticket in Portland shortly before the flight to Seattle so he could have had some idea what the weather would be along that route later in the day and evening. 5. 10,000 ft is the normal maxium altitude for an airline flight crew operating under FAA Part 121 to be unpressurised and off oxygen (as in not wearing an oxygen mask, like Cooper in the back).
Remember, back in 1971 they didnt have cheap clocks which were radio slaved to the National Bureau of Standards atomic standard nor did they have GPS driven clocks. Various clocks at different locations were probably out of sync, possibly by a minute or more. Also, unless we have a radio voice tape with a time track on it we are guessing as to when unusual pressure events actually occurred. Even with a voice tape we only know when it was reported, not exactly when it happened.
I was in a DC 9 with jumpers exiting a rear airstair and I dont recall any pressure bumps at all, so can we be so certain that the pressure bump coincided with Coopers departure froim the plane? Did the "sled" test confirm this? I heard "whoosh" sounds as each jumper left, but felt no pressure bump in my ears. Any other DC 9 jumpers have different memories?
All of these errors are only on the order of minutes but at 727 speeds, minutes are several miles.
I am now 99.9999% positive that there was no radio teletype (RTTY) gear carried by the NWA 727 that dropped Cooper. What we are seeing are transcripts typed by a NWA Company Radio operator on the ground who was listening to VHF radio voice reports from the 727.
There are also contextual clues, eg referring to "305 Stew" after describing some of the "bomb's" appearance something that is far more likely to have been typed by the Company Radio Op to identify who was giving info on the visual appearance. The 727 cockpit crew would have been unlikely to have typed those words and placed them where they are in the overall message. Looks much more like something added as an explanation by the guy on the ground transcribing the voice transmissions.
I have communicated with a number of old time airliner pilots who all say no domestic 727s had RTTY in 1971, but I still dont have it directly from a 1971 NWA 727 pilot so I cannot be 100% certain.
727 pilots from various airlines talked a lot about who had the latest gear (eg when Alaska airlines equipped some 727s with HUDs (head up displays) in the 1980s. Certainly 727 pilots from other airlines would have been aware of RTTY had it been installed in NWA 727s in the early 70s.
I have a LOT of airliner and military flight manuals from the 50s through the late 90s, including a number of 727 manuals from the 70s (but not an NWA 727 manual). There are no airliner manuals in my collection showing RTTY gear in 1971 on any domestic medium range aircraft. RTTY gear is shown in military planes of that era but it uses HF radio for long distance RTTY communications. Domestic NWA 727s did not have HF radios installed according to a number of ex NWA tech and pilot people I have communicated with. They just had VHF voice comms.
I still think if a calculated Cooper exit point cannot be reconciled with the location of the found money then the exit point calculation is erroneous and needs to be moved. Just my opinion though. I am very impressed with Safecracker's modeling using maps, water flow etc.
If Ckret's info about Cooper saying that a flight plan could be filed in the air is correct, then that is a STRONG indication that Cooper was pilot savvy if not an actual pilot himself. How many people who are not pilots know that in flight filing of flight plans can be done? Cooper knew about flying unpressurized, flap settings, gear down, jump altitude without O2, exit speeds, the operability of the rear airstair door in flight and in flight filing of flight plans. Those are a lot of clues.
(This post was edited by 377 on Jan 28, 2008, 12:55 PM)
I find the pressure bump story interesting too. I still say it was very possible to simply be some turbulence in the air. I have left the DC-9 multiple times, perfectly stable, not being tossed around in the sky at all...high speed pass also...no bump from anyone else leaving either. I still think this is a huge grey area of the story. Given possible time offsets, I think we still have about a 3-5 minute window of error on his departure.
I know there has to be some leeway in the timeline, that's understandable.
However, to go from 2011 to now 2018 is quite a big difference. It also requires us to put the plane basically on top of the Columbia or slightly past it given the winds.
I don't know why the FBI was fixated on the search zone they came up with... the map that Ckret posted on page 47 was created in Jan 72, so they had spent two months coming up with it... quite a bit of work if their margin of error was 20 miles.
I certainly hear what you're saying... but you're essentially taking a hard line Tosaw style "he has to land in the Columbia, he just has to"
Well, in way, yes he does have to land there IF we assume he died upon impact, but then you will have a lot of ancillary problems in the theory that must be resolved.
When I said Cooper would have had a snowball's chance at surviving in the Pacific, I was not kidding. I was an NCAA all-american swimmer and there's no way I'd want to be out at sea more than 2 miles in the daylight.. .and that would be somewhere with large volcanoes that I could see for miles... otherwise a swimmer is basically screwed. Now, on the Columbia river, I can tell you from experience, you can push a floating object to the shore from the middle of the river inside of 15 minutes... say 25 minutes for the non-swimmer. The money can float, I don't know how long it can float, but it can float.
If he can see his location through the clouds and he cannot swim, why the hell would he jump near the Columbia? If he cannot swim, the money can help keep him afloat for some length of time... a deployed chute would certainly hinder his movement though... but all this would be drifting downstream.
It's not that far from where the plane crossed the river to where the money was found.. it takes at least 7 years for this to drift downstream??
I think Tosaw just made up an easy explanation and went with it... like you he was so convinced that he paid divers to go down and check the bottom of the river. He also thought the money was dredged up, not washed up.
Big issues there.
A dead body right on the edge of the Columbia does not have much chance of lying there for 7 years without notice... there's buildings, walkways, beaches, restaurants, etc. I'm not sure how it was from 71-79 but I'm sure plenty of people visited the areas around the water's edge.
Not only is there the timeline to contend with, but all this other stuff.
We know where the plane was at 8:12 based on Radar from McCord, so the margin of error cannot be 6 minutes.... can it??
Nice discussion, certainly worth debating.
JerryBaumchen, Thank you for pointing that out, there was a mistake, it was WED the 24th! Pumpkin's are still in season for Thanksgiving, yes?
(This post was edited by SafecrackingPLF on Jan 28, 2008, 1:19 PM)
The pressure bump was not caused by Cooper jumping out of the plane, it was caused by the airstairs slamming back against the aircraft when his bodyweight was removed from them. The only way to do this in a rapid enough motion to cause the movement is to move to the bottom of the stairs and jump.
I have noticed that when cellulose products such as paper and cardboard are in contact with dirt, leaves or other organic matter, they get attacked by bugs and microbes which eat the stuff from the edges inward. Paper or cardboard submerged in salt water doesnt show the same pattern. I dont have experience with cellulose products submerged in fresh water. The money shows that "inward from the edges" pattern suggesting contact with soil or leaves or other above water organic material. I can't tell how much of that occured before it was deposited where it was found.
Just a reminder that "paper" money is not cellulose paper but a mixture of cotton and linen. I'm not sure if this would make any difference to your argument.
Skydive Jack's comments about Cooper seeming to have the knowledge of a pilot were very interesting. Another thought, seeing as we're in speculation mode: I presume it would be reasonable to assume at least some pilots of the time would be familiar with how to operate the rig that Cooper was given (I didn't follow all that rig discussion in detail, having no experience on rounds, but IIRC it was the same type given to pilots for emergencies?) ... and may even have actually had cause to use one once... This MAY be a link tying the theories supporting Cooper as a man of very limited jumping experience with the fact that he seemed to know a lot about planes (eg "interphone" discussion) and didn't seem too fazed at jumping. The pilot theory starts sounding attractive to me.
btw - can't remember who theorized about a military loadmaster - did they wear emergency rigs? what rigs did the pilots of military jump planes wear?
I think a 7-10 minute time error is entirely possible. Remember, nobody knows for sure at what time Cooper exited. If the pressure bump was unrelated to his exit, then he may have jumped many miles from where the FBI estimated his exit point to be. That is precisely why I wanted to see if the McCord radar tapes still existed as they might show a Cooper exit echo. We now have two jumpers saying there were no pressure bumps when a plane full of jumpers exited one by one out the rear of an unpressurized DC 9. Who on this forum jumped the 727 at WFFC in the late 90s? Were there any pressure bumps? Surely some 727 jumpers are lurking here, please speak up.
I don't think Cooper did any visual spotting of his exit point with respect to rivers or other water bodies. I doubt if you could see much of any river that night. You might have seen lights, but not a lot else on the ground.
Cooper had to be pretty knowledgeable about 727s. If he had guessed wrong about the door being operable in flight he'd have been totally screwed. He KNEW it could be opened. How did he know that? Who had that kind of system knowledge about 727s in 1971? All the other bits of info about his commands to the crew indicate quite a bit of knowledge about flying. I'd bet most pilots in 1971 had no idea that you could open the 727 rear door in unpressurized flight without any big problems.
In 1971 I was a jumper and an aviation nut. I had no idea that you could open the 727 rear door in flight and would have bet against it. Who on this forum knew that the door could be opened in flight? If so, how did you know that?
The money tells us a lot about where he exited and the commands to the flight crew tell us a lot about what he knew, which could develop into clues about his identity.
Ckret wrote: "The pressure bump was not caused by Cooper jumping out of the plane, it was caused by the airstairs slamming back against the aircraft when his bodyweight was removed from them. The only way to do this in a rapid enough motion to cause the movement is to move to the bottom of the stairs and jump."
Hmmm, looks like the bump and jump occured almost simultaneously.
Is there any truth to the story that making the airstair deployable in flight was requested of Boeing by the military who underwrote the cost? If it were made to facilitate jumping then wouldnt it have been designed to prevent door slams after jumpers exited?
Military subsidies for civil airliner mods are not unprecedented. Pan Am and others got big subsidies for having some of their 747s equipped with strengthened (and much heavier) floors to allow military cargo operations if needed in wartime. There was a fuel burn penalty from the extra weight but Uncle Sam paid for it, year after year.
When I jumped the DC 9 at WFFC in 2006 they had put sheet metal in the area where we exited and there were no stairs deployed outside of the fuselage. How was the WFFC 727 jumpship configured?
I jumped the 727 twice back at Quincy. What they did was to remove the lower half of the stairs. They took off with the remaining upper half up and closed and then lowered them in flight. Don Kirlin could give you more detail because he was the jumpmaster on at least one of my jumps. I believe the upper half is extended hydraulically.
When lowered the upper half didn't seem to extend into the airstream too much but it seemed fixed, latched or locked into place. I'm wondering if the lower half of the stairs was hinged in order to flex up a bit as people and fuel are loaded with the full stairs down on the ground. If this is the case then the lower stair half on Coopers plane was hinged and being held up by the wind flow. As the weight of a person or sled went out to the end it would extend down further. When the weight suddenly is gone the lower half would pop back up.
I don't recall the 727 exit being bad at all. Sure it was faster and a a bit of a shock at first. But both jumps I dove out and intentionally turned up line of flight to see the 727 before diving down to the base. It was no big deal but really cool!!!
Edited for typo
(This post was edited by SkydiveJack on Jan 28, 2008, 6:05 PM)
Does Don Kirlin have a good alibi? Just kidding, but he is an experienced jet airliner pilot (737?) and a long time jumper. He also personally did a LOT of the work to get the 727 FAA cleared for WFFC jumping operations. From what I heard it was no small task and involved a lot of technical issues. I'd love to see what he thinks about DB Cooper's jump. Don has so much relevant experience. Even though he was pretty young when Cooper jumped, he might now, with all his subsequently gained expertise, see an angle we are simply overlooking.
My understanding was that the 727 in 71 had aft stairs that were lowered only through gravity, and they were really only designed (on the commercial ones anyway) to be lowered while on the ground for passenger/supplies.
So it was nothing like a hydraulic shaft.
I think we need to recruit some of these experts to discuss some of the angles like you mentioned. Do you know how to get a hold of Kirlin & the DZ poster who knows a lot about drop velocities?... or should we find a suitable forum on here and just post a seperate question?
Would it be possible that the military had a slightly modified 727 with different stairs? What would be interesting would be if those same 727s required the Captain to lower the stairs instead of lowering them from the aft cabin... remember, as much as we're talking about Cooper having all this pilot knowledge, he still was unaware that the pilot could not lower the aft stairs and Cooper himself had some trouble with it at first....
He knew a lot, but it would seem he may not have known all there was.
The urban myth is that the military commissioned Boeing to make it possible to drop stuff from a civil 727 in flight so they could do, if needed, covert gear drops and agent insertions from flights that could be disguised as normal airliner operations. Sounds too James Bond for me, but you never know.
(This post was edited by 377 on Jan 28, 2008, 4:08 PM)
Okay... I think then it's fairly safe to say, Cooper knew that the stairs could lower (or he at least assumed it)... BUT, it's apparent he had not spent a lot of time lowering the stairs on one. He didn't even know that this is performed from the aft.
not to take us off topic, but one quick thing, you had mentioned that Cooper would not be able to see the river at night. I concur. But what he might see is "glow" of the lights, a huge break cutting down the middle of it, and then more lights. If he truly "knew" by looking where he was, then he might think the big break seperating the lights must be the Columbia. There's a slight angle in the flight path that would allow him to peer through a port window and see... or just look in that direction when he's on the stairs.
(This post was edited by SafecrackingPLF on Jan 28, 2008, 4:14 PM)
The attached pictures were captured by an AF chase plane during the testing. The plane is NWA flight 305 the one Cooper jumped from. The first two pictures show the sled at the bottom of the stairs. The third is just as the sled was pushed off the stairs. You can see once the weight was removed the stairs are back up into the plane which caused the pressure increase inside the aircraft.
(This post was edited by Ckret on Jan 28, 2008, 4:22 PM)
Man am I glad I admitted that Ckret might be right about the door slam and pressure bump before he showed his Ace card. Whew, foot ALMOST inserted into mouth.
I read somewhere that USAF/ANG F 106 interceptors were scrambled to chase NWA 305, but that they did not make visual contact. If true, they must have been given intercept vectors etc. Would be interesting to see if the USAF still has records related to that short mission. Some USAF ground based air defense radar used to guide fighters for intercepts had two radars operating together, height finding radar which scans up and down as it is rotated to find the slant range to the target of interest and the normal azimuth scan radar which just turns in circles. Two chances to see a Cooper echo. I'll stop ranting about radar when Ckret tells me that the ATC and possible intercept radar tapes no longer exist.
I concede that the bump and jump occurred within a second of each other. Thanks Ckret, cool pictures! What else are ya holding back from us amateur detectives? A Cooper link to the JFK killing and proof that the moon landing was faked? I KNEW it!