A sketch of D.B. Cooper.
A sketch of D.B. Cooper. dbcoopercon.com
Oregon's favorite skyjacking conspiracy—and the only unsolved airplane hijacking in US history—just got a shot of new life this morning through a longform piece by the Oregonian. Author and true crime journalist Douglas Perry breaks down a new theory about exactly who D.B. Cooper was, with unexamined evidence and a (potentially) plausible new suspect.

To recap: In 1971, Cooper (or whatever his real name was) hijacked a Northwest flight out of Portland, demanding a large ransom. The flight landed in Seattle and discarded the passengers, while Cooper, the flight crew, and $200,000 in cash all headed for Reno. Somewhere between Seattle and Reno—quite possibly somewhere in Oregon—Cooper parachuted out of the plane and was never identified or heard from again.

Perry's intriguing piece tells of an anonymous researcher who's uncovered a new suspect for Cooper's identity, a fellow named William J. Smith who was friends and co-workers with Dan Clair, the man positioned in a 1985 book by Max Gunther to be the most likely candidate for Cooper. Gunther's book was dismissed as wild fantasy, but this anonymous researcher theorizes that Smith assumed some of Clair's biographical details, and that they may have planned the scheme together. Rather than have me badly summarize it, it's worth reading Perry's fascinating article over at the O for yourself.

It's high season for Cooper conspiracy crackpots (I choose these words lovingly). The 2018 D.B. Cooper Conference is taking place on Saturday, November 24 right here in Portland, at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club. It's free, and has a bounty of speakers, several of whom are discussing individual suspects in the case (and the list doesn't include Smith or Clair, which only goes to show how wide open this case was when the FBI stopped investigating it in 2016). It'll be a great way to bond with your conspiracy-loving father-in-law over Thanksgiving weekend. More info here.