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Clyde Lewis | November 24, 2020


Last night, I was burning the midnight oil writing for a newsletter called Telepath. I was writing about Kennedy, as it is the anniversary of his assassination. As I was writing, I was going back and looking at some of my old research and much of it was connected to Cuba and Fidel Castro. This led me to reading about death squads and paid assassins linked to the mob. I there was also details about the Northwood’s document and false flag events that were proposed to hijack and destroy American planes and blame it on Cuba. The Northwood’s document is often cited by conspiracy theorists as proof that the government creates events and then blames it on another entity in order to declare wars.

Operation Northwoods was a proposed false flag operation against the Cuban government that originated within the U.S. Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency or other U.S. government operatives to both stage and actually commit acts of terrorism against American military and civilian targets, blaming them on the Cuban government, and using it to justify a war against Cuba.

All of this, of course, is all side stories to the JFK assassination – links to Cuba and the hijack wave America experienced during Vietnam – arguably, the last hijacker of that period was none other than D.B. Cooper… with what I know about the D.B. Cooper case I can make the argument that it was an “inside job.”

The D.B. Cooper case, for me, has always been one of those mysteries that sat on the back shelf. It was always one of those stories that lost its flavor after many years of dead ends and people who could just out of the blue claim that they are D.B. Cooper or have a friend of a friend that is the infamous hijacker. No one can imagine the shock that you get when you find out that one of your old friends, one of your mentors is named as a suspect in the case.

That has actually happened to me — anyone who knows me has heard that everything that I have learned about the paranormal, I learned from an old Antioch Priest named Wolfgang Gossett.

Wolfgang Gossett is one of the many suspects in the D.B. Cooper case — he probably isn’t the most known which makes his story more believable because I believe the F.B.I doesn’t want anyone to know who the real D.B. Cooper is.


Gossett was a paranormal investigator, a priest, and a worker for the F.B.I in the missing persons department.

Gossett was a former Marine, career Army officer, and highly-skilled HALO paratrooper. He possessed all the basic skills and physical appearances of Cooper : 5′ 10″, 185 pounds with brown eyes and short, dark hair parted on the left – Gossett even drank bourbon and smoked cigarettes. Oddly, when he left the Army in 1973, Gossett was stationed in Ft. Lewis, adjacent to McChord AB and just south of Sea-Tac Airport.

Further, Gossett had been stationed in Brienne la Chateau, France.

There is an eerie synchronicity about the French Connection with Wolfgang – he could speak and write in French. At the time of the hijacking, there was a popular French comic book called “Dan Cooper.”

The Dan Cooper comic was popular when the hijacking occurred. In the fictional series, Royal Canadian Air Force test pilot Dan Cooper takes part in adventures in outer space and real events of that era. In one episode, published near the date of the hijacking, the cover illustration shows him parachuting.

I know that this is not proof of anything only an interesting tid bit as to why Gossett called himself Dan Cooper. D.B. Cooper was an invention of the media.

After his military career ended, he worked in the early 1970s as an ROTC instructor and military law professor at Weber State University. He taught survival skills to soldiers – ways to survive in the wild or tactically challenged environments.

Gossett also worked as a radio talk-show host in Salt Lake City, where he moderated discussions about the paranormal. Perhaps his strangest career move was his ordination to the priesthood in the Old Roman Catholic Church in Salt Lake City. As a priest, he dabbled in the occult and was known as a “bit of an exorcist.”

This is how I came to know him – I believe that he was one of the first investigators to reveal the Skinwalker Ranch before any other investigator as he was involved with paranormal activity in the Uintah basin.

He moved to Newport, Oregon, in 1994, and his hobbies included marathon running and storytelling.

I came to Oregon in 1999 and I had no idea where he moved to – I recall that the last time I had seen Wolfgang was 1985 when I attended paranormal workshops he taught at East High School.

I had no idea that Wolfgang was D.B. Cooper until Lawyer Galen Cook appeared on Coast To Coast AM with Ian Punnet, discussing the case. Cook had submitted photos of the man he thought was D.B. Cooper – a friend of mine, Jonathan Burgess, showed me the photos and I immediately knew who it was.

I was blown away – it was my old colleague, Wolfgang and immediately I became acquainted with the D.B. Cooper case – every detail. I even attended a dragging of the Columbia River as a team of investigators attempted to find any remains of Cooper at Tena Bar in Vancouver, Washington.

The D.B. Cooper story has a place in my heart now that I know that someone I worked with, ate cheeseburgers with and went on investigations with – is somehow a suspect in the strange case that is a staple of mystery and conspiracy history.

It’s the only unsolved hijacking case in the history of commercial aviation. On the afternoon of November 24, 1971—Thanksgiving Eve—a man aboard a flight from Portland to Seattle threatened to detonate a bomb if he didn’t receive a hefty ransom. Once he got the money, the hijacker released all passengers and ordered the crew to fly to Mexico. En route, with cash in hand, the man parachuted from the aircraft.

This man was known as D.B. Cooper. After a nearly 50-year FBI investigation, his identity, whereabouts and motive remain unknown. No one even knows whether he survived the jump.

For whatever reason, hundreds of people are convinced they know who D.B. Cooper was—or themselves admitted to being the most recognized hijacker in the world. Maybe it’s the extraordinary circumstantial evidence. Maybe it’s the desperate need for an answer. Maybe it’s a secret wish to make a difference in the world. But sometimes, no matter how hard we wish, no matter how hard we believe, we just can’t make something true. Today, the FBI has DNA from Cooper’s J.C. Penney clip-on tie that he left on the jet and partial fingerprints from the cocktail glasses he drank from while in flight. They can now quickly confirm or eliminate suspects.

When FBI special agent Larry Carr re-introduced the D.B. Cooper hijacking case to the public in 2008, most of the messages he received were from people asking him not to solve the case. Cooper has become a folk hero to some people, and many want the mystery to remain unsolved. For the people who were involved, it’s another story. The most significant eye witness, flight attendant Flo Schaffner, who spent a lot of time with Cooper on flight 305, lived in fear for years, wondering how and when Cooper would track her down.

I would say that the chances of Cooper tracking her down are slim since many of the so-called suspects are dying but perhaps there is a deeper reason for the fear; perhaps there is a deeper conspiracy where National Security was being challenged in an era where hijackings became a common headline in the news.

For several years during the during the Vietnam Era, hijackings were astonishingly routine in American airspace. Desperate and deluded souls commandeered over 130 planes between 1968 and 1972, often at a pace of one or more per week.

Most Skyjackers believed that upon reaching Havana, their sole destination during the mid-to-late 1960s, they would be greeted as revolutionary heroes.

But though Fidel Castro welcomed the wayward flights in order to humiliate the United States and earn hard currency because the airlines had to pay the Cuban government an average of $7,500 to retrieve each plane—he had little but disdain for the hijackers themselves, whom he considered undesirable malcontents.

By July 1968, the situation had become dire enough to warrant a Senate hearing.

The FAA was represented at the hearing by a functionary named Irving Ripp, whose testimony was devoid of even the slightest hint of hope. “It’s an impossible problem short of searching every passenger,” Ripp testified. “If you’ve got a man aboard that wants to go to Havana, and he has got a gun, that’s all he needs.”

Senator George Smathers of Florida countered Ripp’s gloom by raising the possibility of using metal detectors or X-ray machines to screen all passengers. He noted that these relatively new technologies were already in place at several maximum-security prisons and sensitive military facilities, where they were performing admirably.

But Ripp dismissed the senator’s suggestion as certain to have “a bad psychological effect on passengers … It would scare the pants off people. Plus people would complain about invasion of privacy.” None of the senators made any further inquiries about electronic screening.

Two weeks after the Senate hearing, a deranged forklift operator named Oran Richards hijacked a Delta Airlines flight. Somewhere over West Virginia, Richards jumped from his seat and pulled a pistol on the first passenger he encountered in the aisle—a man who just happened to be Senator James Eastland of Mississippi. Though the Delta crew eventually talked Richards into surrendering in Miami, the skyjacking of a national political figure represented a dangerous new twist to the epidemic. Almost immediately the State Department proposed a novel anti-skyjacking solution: free one-way flights to Cuba for anyone who wished to go, provided they vowed never to return to the United States. But Castro refused to accept these “good riddance flights”; he had no incentive to help America curtail its skyjackings, which gave him excellent fodder for his marathon sermons against capitalist decadence.

Unwilling to spend the money necessary to weed out passengers with dark intentions, the airlines instead focused on mitigating the financial impact of skyjacking. They decided that their top priority was to avoid violence, since passenger or crew fatalities would surely generate an avalanche of bad publicity. As a result, every airline adopted policies that called for absolute compliance with all hijacker demands, no matter how peculiar or extravagant. A November 1968 memo that Eastern Air Lines circulated among its employees made clear that even minor attempts at heroism were now strictly forbidden:

“The most important consideration under the act of aircraft piracy is the safety of the lives of passengers and crew. Any other factor is secondary … In the face of an armed threat to any crew member, comply with the demands presented. Do not make an attempt to disarm, shoot out, or otherwise jeopardize the safety of the flight. Remember, more than one gunman may be on board … To sum up, going on past experience, it is much more prudent to submit to a gunman’s demands than attempt action which may well jeopardize the lives of all on board.”

As the airlines labored to make each hijacking as quick and painless as possible, the epidemic only grew worse. Eleven flights were commandeered during the first six weeks of 1969—a record pace. The hijackers included a former mental patient accompanied by his three-year-old son; a community college student armed with a can of bug spray; a Purdue University dropout with a taste for Marxist economics; and a retired Green Beret who claimed that he intended to assassinate Castro with his bare hands.

At the behest of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, the FAA formed a special anti-hijacking task force to develop possible solutions to the crisis. The group was immediately inundated with thousands of letters from concerned citizens, who recommended inventive ways to frustrate skyjackers: installing trapdoors outside cockpits, arming stewardesses with tranquilizer darts, making passengers wear boxing gloves so they couldn’t grip guns, playing the Cuban national anthem before takeoff and then arresting anyone who knew the lyrics. The most popular suggestion was for the FAA to build a mock version of José Martí International Airport in a South Florida field, so that skyjackers could be duped into thinking they had reached Havana. That idea sparked serious interest at the agency but was ultimately discarded as too expensive.

John Dailey, a task force member who also served as the FAA’s chief psychologist, began to attack the problem by analyzing the methods of past skyjackers. He pored through accounts of every single American hijacking since 1961, more than seventy cases in all and compiled a database of the perpetrators’ basic characteristics: how they dressed, where they lived, when they traveled, and how they acted around airline personnel. His research convinced him that all skyjackers involuntarily betrayed their criminal intentions while checking in for their flights.

“There isn’t any common denominator except in [the hijackers’] behavior,” he told one airline executive. “Some will be tall, some short, some will have long hair, some not, some a long nose, et cetera, et cetera. There is no way to tell a hijacker by looking at him. But there are ways to differentiate between the behavior of a potential hijacker and that of the usual air traveler.”

Dailey, who had spent the bulk of his career designing aptitude tests for the Air Force and Navy, created a brief checklist that could be used to determine whether a traveler might have malice in his heart. Paying for one’s ticket by unconventional means, for example, was considered an important tip-off. So, too, were failing to maintain eyecontact and expressing an inadequate level of knowledge or concern about one’s luggage. Dailey fine-tuned his criteria so they would apply to only a tiny fraction of travelers—ideally no more than three out of every thousand. He proposed that these few “selectees” could then be checked with handheld metal detectors, away from the prying eyes of fellow passengers. Most selectees would prove guilty of nothing graver than simple eccentricity, but a small number would surely be found to be in possession of guns, knives, or incendiary devices.

In the late summer of 1969, the FAA began to test Dailey’s anti-hijacking system on Eastern Air Lines passengers at nine airports. When a man obtaining his boarding pass was judged to fit the behavioral profile, he was discreetly asked to proceed to a private area, where a federal marshal could sweep his body with a U-shaped metal detector. One of Dailey’s assistants secretly videotaped this process, so the FAA could ascertain whether travelers took offense at the intrusion.

Dailey pronounced the experiment a roaring success, noting that his profile selected only 1,268 out of 226,000 passengers; of those beckoned aside for a brief date with the metal detector, 24 were arrested on weapons or narcotics charges. More important, selectees rarely seemed to mind the extra scrutiny; when interviewed afterward, most said they were just happy to know that something was finally being done to prevent hijackings.

But there were two fatal flaws in how the FAA’s system was implemented. The first was that pilots and stewardesses were not told which of their passengers were selectees. If a hijacker claimed to have a bomb, the crew had no way of knowing whether he had been searched prior to boarding—and thus no way of determining whether his threat was a bluff. All they could do was err on the side of caution and obey the hijacker’s every command.

Then in 1971, D.B. Cooper’s hijacking made the headlines… and so the question is: was he a selectee gone rogue? This would explain why the F.B.I. has in my opinion botched the investigation.

The FBI’s extensive record on D.B. Cooper describe him as a “white male, 5”11” -6’1″ tall, 170-175 pounds, age-mid-forties, olive complexion, brown eyes, black hair, conventional cut, parted on left.” Cooper boarded Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305, he settled in his aisle seat at the rear of the 727, lit a cigarette, and ordered a bourbon and soda. Then he handed a note to Florence Schaffner, a flight attendant. “I have a bomb in my briefcase,” it read. “I want you to sit next to me.”

Schaffner did as instructed. Cooper told her the rest of his demands: $200,000 and four parachutes, delivered on landing at Sea-Tac Airport. While police and airline staff on the ground scrambled to assemble the money and chutes, the pilots flew in circles above Seattle. Passengers were told that a minor mechanical issue had forced the plane to burn fuel, prolonging a flight that would normally take 30 minutes.

After three-and-a-half hours in the air, the 727 finally landed. Having received his money and parachutes, Cooper dismissed all 36 passengers and two of the six crew members. The plane refueled and took off for Cooper’s next requested destination: Mexico, via Reno and Yuma to refuel. During the first leg, with the crew in the cockpit, Cooper lowered the rear stairs and parachuted into a thunderstorm. He has never been found.

The FBI had speculated that Cooper may have landed somewhere near Amboy not 30 miles from Portland Oregon. There was also a huge combing of the area near Ariel Washington about 20 miles northwest of Amboy.

However, upon further study I was involved with an investigation with Team Tosaw near Tena Bar – the area where a young boy found some of D.B. Cooper’s money in a Sand pit. I was of the impression that Cooper jumped from the plane between Battleground Washington and Vancouver.

In 1980, a family on a picnic found $5,880 of Cooper’s money in a bag on a Columbia River beach, near Vancouver. Some investigators believed it might have been washed down to the beach by the Washougal River. But if Cooper landed near Amboy and stashed the money bag there, there’s no way it could have naturally reached the Washougal.

It was a stormy evening in November –which if anyone knows the weather in the area the winds blowing east form the Gorge would have pushed Cooper towards and area called St. Johns Oregon – 30 -45 miles west of Amboy and Ariel.

Tena Bar is actually across the Columbia River from St. Johns. I also lived in Kenton near St. John’s and wondered if he may have landed there in the swampy area near what was once called Vanport.

So why would the FBI investigate an area some 40 miles away from a logical landing site for Cooper?

I often wondered if they knew that Cooper was one of their agents that went rogue and instead of being a selectee for the new Hijacking security detail he took advantage of the situation and made off with all of the money and apparently, all of the fame that comes with being a folk hero.

The new security system’s more fundamental weakness, was the fact that it depended entirely on the vigilance of airline ticket agents. They, rather than professional security personnel, were responsible for applying a checklist to every passenger they encountered. Over time the flight agents’ attention to detail was bound to lag as they processed thousands upon thousands of harried customers each day. It is simply human nature to grow complacent.

I believe Cooper exploited that flaw and fooled the F.B.I.; embarrassed by the fact that one of their own turned on them – they opted to keep the story a secret and trip up any would be investigators with a puzzle piece here and another over there.




Written by Clyde Lewis

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