After my three years in Germany, I was assigned as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the message center and the printing department at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. on October 1, 1970.
On my 43rd birthday, November 24, 1971, an identified man hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the airspace between Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, extorted $200,000 in ransom, and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and protracted FBI investigation, the perpetrator has never been located or identified. The case remains the only unsolved air piracy in American aviation history. The man was called D.B. Cooper and the $200,000 ransom was equivalent to $1,700,000 in 2015.
I was just getting over my first hijacking while I was at the Pentagon. February 4, 1971, a Delta DC-9 was hijacked to Cuba.
As I read the report that came into my office, I got the surprise of my life. The pilot of the airliner was Richard “Dick” Blizzard from my hometown of Jenkins. I did not know Richard. I knew his uncle who lived next door where I was born on Main Street.
The hijacker was held in a Cuban jail. The flight returned to the States. The hijacker was given 30 years.
(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)