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Curious Brit

DB Cooper Technical Jump Requirements.


Hi everyone .Like many of us i have always been fascinated with the DB Cooper Case and unsolved mysteries in general.I have some leading questions regarding the DB cooper jump.I know very little about skydiving but have a decent IQ which means hopefully with some expertise from the forum members perhaps something conclusive could  be learned.I am sorry our British ahem "documentary" on DB  wasnt up to the mark.I know enough about television shows to know that things happen behind the scenes for reasons that may never occur to most folks and the producers often misrepresent their intentions(or change them midway) to get what they want...We have a saying here - "television will chew you up and spit you out" Anyway greetings to all and errr here we go.Please remember all equipment only available in 71 no modern equipment-

1/what would be a typical jump - land time -10,000 feet to ground?

2/If DB jumped wearing only a suit or a suit and thermal underwear would he have survived the drop or succumbed to hypothermia?

3/Are there some item(s) that could be carried in a large plastic carrier bag (DB had a carrier bag with him) that could have help protect him from the outside temperatures/wind chill that an experienced skydiver would use.

4/ Could DB (using equipment available to him at the time) "guide" his parachute to a clear area and would he even be able to see anything at night? How do experienced parachutists cope with such difficulties?

5/Is there a risk of "blackout" during the jump-if so large or small?

6/Looking on google maps there is a tremendous number of forestry roads/paths near the jump zone.was there equipment available at that time that would enable him to reveal his location to someone on the ground assuming he made it? Is it really feasible that he could "walk out of the woods" after that jump?

7/If you land in a tree is it possible to get out or is it generally like in the movies-broken limbs,hanging upside down while trying to cut free with a trusty pocket knife!!

8/finally if you are a skydiver and i offered you 200k (at todays value) with the same equipment to make that jump under the same conditions would you do it??This may tell us more than anything...

Thanks to all of you-Nick


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Oh my.

This may generate some interesting responses. 
The 'Coopernicans' are not terribly well regarded by many on here.

I read and posted in the Cooper thread for quite a while, but it was a long time ago. 
I agree that it's an interesting subject. I knew about it from when I was a teen, and when I started jumping, that interest was re-kindled.  

Have you read the earlier posts? I doubt you've read the whole thing, but go back and read the original thread if you haven't done so. It's linked early in the current thread.
Also, read the beginning of the current thread. Maybe the first hundred pages or so (yes, I'm serious).

When Ckret, Sluggo, SafecrackPLF and even Snowmman were posting regularly, there was a LOT of good info, and a fair amount of actual 'sleuthing' going on. 

Much of what you are asking (and the ancillary questions that will arise from the answers) were covered in pretty good detail & depth. 

Presuming you aren't a Derek Godsey sock puppet, here are some serious answers to your questions:

1 - Depends entirely on opening altitude. If he pulled right out the door, it would be a fairly long time under canopy all the way to the ground. Maybe 20 minutes. If he pulled at a typical skydiver deployment altitude (2000' - 3000', 750m-1000m) then much less. Maybe a minute of freefall, and then a canopy descent of 3 or 4 minutes. 


2 - He probably would have still been alive when he reached the ground. If he pulled high, then he'd be pretty cold. In any case, if he didn't get inside and warm reasonably soon (maybe an hour or so after landing), he'd be in a difficult spot. 


3 - What 'large plastic carrier bag' are you talking about. Cooper had the 'bomb' (most likely a fake made from railroad flares) in a briefcase. He also had a small paper bag. Nothing he could have carried with him would have been much use.


4 - Sort of, but not really. The canopy he was using was an 'emergency bailout' rig. It may have been steerable, but the control of it was nowhere near what's available with a modern square. Think old school army paratroops. Seeing what's below at night is actually easier than you'd think. The night was broken clouds, and the moon was out (maybe - I don't remember the exact moon phase). With no other lights, what's there allows you to see reasonably well. Night jumps are something modern sport skydivers do sometimes. Generally, there's lights on the airport (normal runway lights), a big bonfire (both as a sgnal and for fun), and usually cars lining the landing area with their headlights on, angled in the direction people are supposed to land. 


5 - Presuming you mean 'blackout' to be loss of consciousness, not really. 


6 - Sure. He could have had a flashlight in his pocket. Small lights show up quite well over a fairly long distance at night in the middle of nowhere. Same thing on the ground. Someone with a 'biggish' light could have signalled him. However, he would have had a hard time landing near them (see above). But the idea that he could have simply 'walked out' is not unreasonable. I"ve 'landed out' more than once. I've had to walk several hundred yards to the nearest road so I could be picked up. 


7 - It depends. It's entirely possible to land unscathed in a tree. It's also possible to get impaled by a large branch. Presuming landing unharmed, it's possible to reach the trunk, get out of the harness and climb down. It's also entirely possible to fall out while trying to do so. Students are taught to wait for help to come and get them out and not to try to get down themselves. 


8 - It depends on the landing area and my ability to choose the exit point. If I know where I'm going to land, then hell yeah. Perris (in California) is talking about getting their DC-9 jet flying again. It's very similar to the 727. It's a very spendy jump ticket, but quite popular. Back in the 'early zeros' (2000ish), the jet was a big attraction at the "World Freefall Convention". Lots of folks jumped out of it (during the daytime). 


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If DB Cooper had a genuine USAF or USN pilot emergency parachute, it was probably a 28 foot diameter, flat circular canopy with a 4-line-release that gave it a bit of forward speed and some ability to turn.

4-line-release just releases the rear 4 suspension lines. To activate 4-line-release, the jumper pulls down on two red suspension lines that hang behind his ears. Pulling releases the 4 rear suspension lines and gives maybe 5 mph) forward speed ... enough to miss a tree, but not a lake.

Once the 4-lines are released, the parachute can be steered by pulling down on a rear riser ... strap going up from the shoulder. This allows the jumper to steer away from small obstacles and face into the wind for landing.

Descent rate is roughly 1,000 feet per minute and the canopy becomes more stable after the 4-lines are released.

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