B. Cooper Notes make $37K
By Mike Unser
Fifteen $20 Federal
Reserve Notes from the infamous 1971 "D. B.
Cooper" skyjacking were sold for more than
$37,000 at Heritage Auction Galleries‘ Americana
Memorabilia Grand Format Auction June 13, 2008.
The notes were owned by Brian Ingram, 36, of
Mena, Arkansas who was eight years old in 1980
when he found the only ransom money ever
discovered from the still-unsolved skyjacking.
Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines 727
flight from Portland to Seattle in 1971. During
the flight to Seattle, Cooper said he had a bomb
and demanded $200,000 and parachutes. When the
plane landed, he released the passengers in
exchange for the money and ordered the pilot to
Mexico. While in flight, he jumped from the rear
stairway, and was never heard from or seen
The 727 Cooper jumped from was flying at a speed
of nearly 200 mph. His odds of surviving were
low considering the complexity of the jump and
the fact that it happened at night and during
stormy weather with a wind chill well below
In a statement announcing the auction of notes,
Ingram commented on how the money was nearly
"We were going to make a fire along the river
bank." Ingram recalled. "I was on my hands and
knees smoothing out the sand with my arm, and I
uncovered three bundles of money just below the
surface. My uncle thought we should throw it in
Ingram found approximately $5,800 of the
$200,000 ransom given to the skyjacker, and the
FBI later returned a small portion to his
In February of 2008, PCGS Currency discovered
nearly three dozen serial numbers that
apparently had not been previously recorded by
the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Two of the highest winning bids Friday at the
Heritage auction were for over $6,500. A third
tattered note went for nearly $6,000. Testifying
to the intense interest of these notes, an
extremely small fragment sold for $358.50.
“There’s obviously still tremendous interest in
the legendary case,” Heritage President Greg
Rohan said in a statement.
“I was 10 years old when it happened and I
remember it like it was yesterday, sitting at
the family Thanksgiving table in West Seattle
hearing the news.
I’ve always wondered if Cooper lived the high
life for a while or became bear food,” Rohan
After today’s auction, Ingram still owns several
dozen D.B. Cooper bills and fragments that were
authenticated by PCGS Currency, a division of
Collectors Universe, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLCT), and
encapsulated in specially-labeled protective,
archival storage holders.