The Hijacking of American Flight 119: How D.B. Cooper Inspired a Skyjacking Craze and the Fbi's Battle to Stop It (Hardcover)

The Hijacking of American Flight 119: How D.B. Cooper Inspired a Skyjacking Craze and the Fbi's Battle to Stop It By John Wigger Cover Image
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(True Crime)


He pulled off what some deem the crime of the century: skyjacking a commercial jetliner, collecting a ransom of $200,000, parachuting off the aft stairs of the Boeing 727 into the night, and simply disappearing. Since November 1971, "D.B. Cooper"--no one knows his real name or identity--has become a figure of enduring fascination and obsession. The FBI pursued him for over forty years, before closing the case and leaving it unsolved.

Unsolved, perhaps, but much admired. D.B. Cooper's exploit over the skies of the American Northwest has inspired books, films, and endless speculation. What's less known is that it inspired imitators. None were more daring than the hijacker of American Airlines Flight 119. After commandeering the flight from St. Louis with a machine gun and collecting $502,500 in ransom, he parachuted out over Indiana. Unlike Cooper, he was tracked down.

In The Hijacking of American Flight 119, John Wigger explores the wave of hijackings that swept over commercial flight between 1961 and 1972. One hijacker ran across the ramp in Reno, Nevada with a pillowcase over his head, gun in hand, to seize a United Airlines flight. Another collected a large ransom in Washington, D.C. before jumping over Honduras. Yet another rode a bicycle across the tarmac with a rifle strapped to the handlebars. Motivations involved an admixture of ideology, greed, derring-do, and a desperate need to be somebody. What they had in common was that their exploits transfixed the nation's attention, bringing about a transformation in airline security that remains with us still.

With its focus on the parachute hijackers, Wigger's book gathers together the stories of this period of daring criminality and recounts them in gripping fashion, showing their effect on the public, the media, and law enforcement. Using never-before- published interviews and first-hand accounts, he brings to life one of the most chaotic and fascinating periods in American aviation history.

About the Author

John Wigger is Professor of History at the University of Missouri. He is the author of PTL: The Rise and Fall of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's Evangelical Empire, and American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists. He grew up flying with his father and was an avid aerobatic pilot.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780197695753
ISBN-10: 0197695752
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: November 1st, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English