It was tough getting the news that Skipp Porteous, my co-author on the book Into The Blast – The True Story of D.B. Cooper, had passed away. For the last few years he had suffered from aphasia, and he began having trouble using a keyboard or communicating verbally, although his mind remained sharp as a carpet tack.
The Cooper book wasn’t his first book, however. Before forming Sherlock Investigations in New York City, Skipp had actually been a fundamentalist preacher. Over the years, he had a change of heart about that work, and detailed his journey in his 1991 book, Jesus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which is still available at Amazon. I bought a copy not long after we started working together on the D.B. Cooper case, just to get a handle on the guy who was sending me on interviews all over the Northwest USA.
In the nine years I knew Skipp, I never actually met him. But over the years I grew to KNOW him quite well. He had skills on determining when people were lying, or hiding something, or when someone needed to be questioned. In late 2008, I saw his name mentioned in an article by author Geoffrey Gray, who would later go on to write his own book on the Cooper case, Skyjack. There was a mention by Skipp that he was considering a book on the suspect discussed in the article, Kenneth Peter Christiansen, a former US Army paratrooper and an actual employee of the airline that Cooper had hijacked for $200,000.
On the day I read the article, I made a fateful decision that would change my life. I decided to contact Skipp and offer him my services as a book editor, and to possibly even publish his book. I also said I lived just down the road from where his suspect once lived, and I found the whole subject interesting.
Neither the local cops at the King County Sheriffs’ Department, or the Seattle F.B.I. have been forthcoming on a couple of issues in the D.B. Cooper case. The video below was shot in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State in October 2015. It speaks for itself:
After hijacker D.B. Cooper jumped (most likely near Ariel, WA) on November 24, 1971 it was a little more than six years before any evidence surfaced, and it wasn’t from Cooper himself. An instructional placard showing how to open the aft airstairs was found in what was described as ‘a heavily-forested area six flying minutes north of Ariel’. The placard was discovered in early 1978 by Carroll Hicks of Kelso, Washington State, while he was out hunting.
The location of the found placard has been researched pretty heavily and is well-known. Today, the area is much less forested, and has been subjected to extremely heavy logging since 1978. The exact spot can be reached today (within about fifty feet accuracy or so) with any decent car or truck. The placard was turned over to police afterward, and its location on the ground was used to help confirm the flight path of the hijacked airliner.
For GPS users, the exact coordinates are:
An embedded, interactive Google map is shown below. To begin, click on ‘View Larger Map’. Then select ‘Satellite View’ and the 3-D option for best results. Zooming in or out also helps, and yes, Google can provide directions to the site. When using 3-D, hold down your CNTL button while moving your mouse to adjust the terrain view for best results.
Adventure Books of Seattle, who investigated the DB Cooper case for several years, and has hosted occasional summer campouts for the public, has named this spot as a possible future camping location for one of those events. The idea being that it might be fun, and campers could search the surrounding area for additional items that could still be lurking in the trees and brush. These include the (probably) phony bomb, the non-working reserve chute, and Cooper’s briefcase. They were not on the plane when it finally landed in Reno, and have never been found. Perhaps Cooper actually ripped off the placard and tossed it out the back, along with those other items, to throw off any ground search later. He could have done this before he jumped. It’s doubtful he tied them to himself, as he did the money bag. You never know. In any case, we’re considering a metal detector for this camping trip. 🙂