Littleton Coin Company

What was in D.B Cooper’s Haul?
A look at what’s been found… and where did the rest go?!

Growing up in the 1980s, I was always fascinated by tales of treasure. I dreamed of stumbling across a fortune that had been stashed in the woods. Or finding a treasure chest that had washed ashore in a remote corner of the beach!

D.B. Cooper wanted poster - Littleton Coin Blog

I remember hearing about the D.B. Cooper treasure as a kid. Of course, at the time I didn’t have much concept about WHAT happened during this heist, so much as I knew that there was missing loot out there… and it cemented this tale in my memory!

The backstory

In November of 1971, a man onboard a flight from Portland, OR bound for Seattle, WA made a demand for parachutes and $200,000 cash in $20 bills[i].

When the plane landed in Seattle, the man – known then as Dan Cooper – allowed the passengers to disembark in exchange for the cash and parachutes. He then ordered the crew to take off once again, this time bound for Mexico City.

Not long into the flight, “Cooper” shocked those remaining on board by jumping out of the plane (which was flying under 10,000 feet at a speed under 230 mph) with a chute and the ransom. The pilots were able to land the plane safely… but no trace was ever found of the man who came to be known as D.B. Cooper.

What happened after?

Very little evidence has been recovered from this caper. In 1980, a boy famously found $5,800 of the D.B. Cooper treasure on the banks of the Columbia River. Though the money had deteriorated quite a bit, enough of the serial numbers remained for law enforcement to confirm it had indeed come from the ransom money given to D.B. Cooper.

Money stolen by D.B. Cooper - Littleton Coin Blog
Some of the found D.B. Cooper notes

Collectors keen on owning a piece of the D.B. Cooper treasure can – in 2008, PCGS certified[ii] some of the $20 Federal Reserve Notes that had been found in 1980. Later that year, these pieces were sold at auction[iii].

The FBI investigated multiple leads over the years, but the man known as D.B. Cooper has never been officially identified. It’s long been debated whether or not he would have survived the jump. With the advent of the internet, many theories have come forward – including the idea that Cooper may not have jumped out of the plane, instead disembarking along with the other passengers in Seattle!

In 2016 – 45 years after that notorious event – the active investigation into D.B. Cooper was retired. If more evidence ever comes to light it will be evaluated, but for now it looks as though the mystery of the D.B. Cooper treasure will remain unsolved.

Have you ever dreamed of finding lost or buried treasure? Is there another buried treasure tale you’d like to read about here? Let me know in the comments below!

This article was written by Kierstin S.

Since 2000, Kierstin has enjoyed sharing her love of collecting with folks like you.

[i] FBI, “D.B. Cooper Hijacking”, accessed 18 January 2024,

[ii] PCGS, “PCGS Currency Certifies Legendary ‘D.B. Cooper’ Skyjacking Ransom Notes”, accessed 18 January 2024,

[iii] Unser, Mike, “D.B. Cooper Notes make $37L at Heritage’s Americana Memorabilia Auction” (, accessed 18 January 2024;

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply