In 1971, "DB Cooper" hijacked a plane from Portland, Oregon and eventually parachuted into the Pacific Northwest wilderness with $200,000 strapped to his body. He was never seen again. The DB Cooper tale continues to thrive in popular culture while sparking a seemingly endless stream of theories about the mystery man's identity. During the ordeal, flight attendant Tina Mucklow became the skyjacker's liaison to the pilots, communicating his demands over the intercom system to the cockpit. Mucklow ended up spending more time with "Cooper" than anyone else. For almost fifty years, she wasn't willing to say much about what happened. As a result, some Cooper obsessives became convinced that she must hold the key to Cooper's identity. From a new Rolling Stone interview with Mucklow in which she recounts that very strange flight and what happened since:
Despite rumors swirling on online forums, Mucklow says her decision not to talk wasn't a coverup for some deeper mystery: she isn't in witness protection, and she's not suffering from PTSD over something mysterious the hijacker did during their few minutes alone together in the cabin of the plane. After the incident, she cooperated with the FBI investigation and has since sought, mostly successfully, to move on. "I went on with my life, pursued what I needed to do, had my own personal interests, likes, and wants," she says. "I wasn't defined by that hijacking." The only thing making that difficult has been the dozens of people each year who keep asking her about it[…]
For many armchair detectives Mucklow came to be regarded as the Holy Grail in the Cooper case. In 2011, journalist Geoffrey Gray wrote a deeply reported book, Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper, where he investigates a former Northwest Orient employee and paratrooper as a possible suspect. He wanted Mucklow's opinion, and described in the book the desperation he felt trying to reach her: "I imagine the aging stewardess sitting on her sofa in her living room listening to her answering machine, wondering if she should pick up after holding back whatever secrets she's been keeping all these years. I pray for her to pick up. Please, Tina, please. I sent her telepathic messages, mental beams aimed to direct her hands to her telephone receiver. Pick up, Tina." She declined the interview.
The vast majority of people making these requests — around 90 or 95 percent, Mucklow estimates — have been men. And at times, the harassment has been intense. For every professionally persistent journalist who has reached out to her over the years, she's endured aggressive Cooper obsessives who won't take no for an answer. "There have been many times when I've felt that people didn't respect, 'No,' or 'Not interested,' or just the fact that I didn't contact them," she says. "Although that isn't a formal way of saying no, it's a nonverbal way of saying 'Not interested.' " Some people have knocked on her door then sat in their car outside her house after she refused an interview. Someone once surreptitiously took pictures of her in the parking lot of her workplace. One caller shamed her, saying "a Christian woman" would return their call. After several attempts to get Mucklow to talk to him, one prominent follower of the case called Mucklow a "social isolate," "quick to anger," "bitter," a "recluse," "fragile," a "wounded woman," and "traumatized," in a single blog post.
"Many saw flight attendant Tina Mucklow as the key to the mysterious skyjacking. But does her story hold the answers?" (Rolling Stone)