The Ballad of D B Cooper
Come, listen to the ballad of D B Cooper
Pre-dates the sickness of Abba’s Super Trouper,
Flare-wing shirts, British sports cars and glam-rock bands,
The sky-jacker D B Cooper descends to land –
Lowers an aft-steps – oh what a rush – leaps from the plane,
With parachute and sack of ill-gotten gains:
The only skyjacker to escape the Fuzz,
A beeline into headlines – a worldwide buzz.
And did this cool cat survive to tell the tale
By a leap into the dark, fog and force-nine gale?
Or did he land with a thunderous ker-splat:
Brains like blancmange, eye-balls bounce, rib-cage squashed flat?
On Thanksgiving Eve 1971
A man enters the airport of Oregon,
Black suit smoothly pressed, glasses and clip-on tie,
As sharp as a pearl pin this super-fly guy
Strides smartly to the counter of NOA,
Pays cash for a ticket Seattle one-way:
Aisle seat 18-C Boeing flight 305
A third full: the last passenger to arrive
Settles in the back and lights a cigarette,
With scotch and soda rides into the sunset.
From his black briefcase pulls a handwritten note,
Tugs at the hem of the stewardess’s coat:
－ ‘Excuse me, miss, but I think you’ll want to read
About the bomb in the case between my knees,
Come, sit beside me and I’ll give you a flash:
I simply ask for two hundred grand in cash,
Four parachutes, I’m not planning to stay,
And a fuel truck on the Seattle runway.’ －
The stewardess badly shaken but not stirred
Heads to the captain to impart the good word.
The airline’s president orders the payment
And full cooperation with the claimant
Described as smiling, well-spoken and polite,
Order drinks for the house and meals on the flight,
－ ‘Cheers!’ ‘Here’s to your good health!’ ‘Miss, please keep the change’ －
－ ‘Sir, your demands are met, the cash is arranged －’
An hour after sunset the partying roamers
Touch terra firma at Seattle-Tacoma,
The captain taxis to an apron outcrop,
A puff of relief, the plane gratefully stops.
Now the cool cat Cooper springs into action –
Staggers down the aisle to speak to the captain:
Together they espy a lone wary chap
Approach with parachutes and cash-filled knapsack
Safely delivered, Cooper evacuates
The stewardesses and partying inmates.
During refuelling, Cooper outlines the plot:
Fly slowly without stalling at one-hundred knots,
The landing gear deployed in take-off position
Fly southeast towards Mexico your mission,
Lower the wingflaps, cabin unpressurise,
Aft exit door open to spring a surprise.
At 7.40 with five people aboard –
The cabin crew thunderstruck, Cooper with hoard,
Head south-east into the Stygian abyss,
The cabin crew notice with Cooper amiss
On the panel a red warning bulb flashing
Suggests Cooper the aft airstairs unlashing,
But of the five spy-planes following the tail
Not one of them notice the skyjacker bail –
One giant leap into immortality
But was this a crime sans a fatality?
With each new moon the search-party of troopers
Find not a cent of the flyaway Cooper.
The experts argue could it be possible
For a besuited man to survive the fall?
But all are agreed with the temerity
Of Cooper passing to immortality.
Each Thanksgiving Eve to thee I propose
With champagne, chocolates and late-bloom red rose:
My love, Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly today
And midair sing the ballad of the one crazy cat skyjacker who got away.