The Enduring Mystery of DB Cooper

Welcome back. My absence over the past four weeks and the rumors about where I might have been may have some similarities with another missing man whose disappearance you may have heard of. Here is his story, told in the first person.

The date was Wednesday November 24, 1971, Thanksgiving Eve. In order to conceal my identity I paid cash for a one way ticket at the ticket counter of Northwest Orient Airlines in the Portland International Airport. A frequent flyer, I took a seat in the back of the plane, ordered a bourbon and lit a cigarette which in those days you could do. I was dressed in business attire wearing a black raincoat over a dark suit, starched white shirt and black clip on tie.

The plane was one third full when we took off and shortly afterwards I handed a note to the flight attendant. Printed in neat capital letters, the note stated that I had a bomb in my briefcase. I let her peek inside the bag where she could see eight red cylinders I had attached to a large battery. I told her straight out that I wanted $200,000 in U.S. dollars, four parachutes and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle to refuel the plane. If all my requests were met the passengers could go free. When the plane landed in Seattle all my demands were granted and true to my word all but four people were released. The pilot, the co-pilot, a flight attendant, a flight engineer and myself all stayed on board. After take-off I told the four to get into the cockpit of the plane. I ordered the pilot to keep the plane at 10,000 feet, to cruise at the minimum speed needed to stay in the air and to keep the cabin depressurized and not to come out of the cockpit until we landed.

Moving to the back of the plane, I opened the rear doors to the outside. It was dark but in the shadows I could see the planes following us, two F-16 fighter jet behind and others above and on either side. It took about fifteen minutes to put on my parachute and tuck the money away. I knew I would have to free fall a long way to avoid detection and without any further thought I jumped.

This is one of the most written about aviation mysteries ever. Could I have survived the jump from a jet plane? If I did survive how did I get away? It was all wilderness along the plane’s route.

47 years later, after countless FBI probes, investigations by the Army and local Sheriffs’ departments searching the ground beneath the plane’s flight pattern along with offers of big rewards, the cloud that has covered this fascinating story just might be lifted. Now returning from a mysterious disappearance myself, could it be that I am D.B. Cooper, the man they are looking for? To find out the answer to that question and the reason for my disappearance, call Matt Tranquil, the Publisher of the Bartlesville Examiner Enterprise at (918) 335-8200.
Next week it’s another ‘who am I?” with a local twist. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..

P.S. If you are interested in reading more about this story check out Marla Wynn Cooper’s book abut the man she says was her uncle. You can download the kindle version by following this link.

Express Ranch’s 2018 Big Event

Welcome back. Cattlemen from all over the world will descend on Oklahoma this coming Friday and Saturday as the 28th annual Big Event Cow Sales once again comes to Yukon where a hundred-thousand-dollar cow is not unusual. Express Ranches, which hosts this very important cattle auction, is the largest operation of its kind in the country. You regular readers know I’ve written about this sale and the great people I’ve meet there for the last few years.

These folks are the ones who raise the beef we eat and they are truly as American as you can get. Entire families come to the sale, not only to buy cattle but also to experience the hospitality that Oklahomans offer visitors. In addition to the friendly people, the folks I’ve talked to also enjoy visiting the many museums and other attractions the state has to offer, adding their dollars to our tourism revenue.

As in past years this Friday night after the sale there will be a big steak and shrimp dinner outside under the biggest tent I think I’ve ever seen. After dinner the thousand plus guests are always entertained by someone famous in the country music business and this year is no different. I first met Vince Gill in 1997 during Bartlesville’s Centennial celebration when he was the headliner for the Grand Finale Concert which was held on Bruin Field. In those days I was doing a lot of personal security for many entertainers around the country and Vince was just one. A few years earlier in 1990 he had his first big hit with “When I Call Your Name” which won both the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year Award and a Grammy and when he came to Bartlesville he was a hot ticket.
Of course, nowadays most of Vince’s fans know he has gone on to win 17 more CMA awards and four more song of the year awards. No one else has ever done that and when you throw in 20 more Grammy, well all I can say is he’s still big stuff and from knowing him just a little bit I can tell you he’s also a comic with great timing.

It’s all happening in Yukon, Oklahoma this weekend and although it’s hard to get a ticket for Friday night if you’re not buying a cow, the Saturday auction is free and open to the public. Don’t worry if the weather is bad the barn where the auction is held is more like a museum and its full of trophies won by youth who have made it big in the cattle business. It’s worth the visit just to see the ranch and the Express Clydesdales whose barn is right on the property. I’ve told you enough so call your banker, tell him you want to buy a cow and I’ll see you there.

For me, with a new book coming out soon its nonstop as I’ll also be at the Tulsa Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday for the big Grand National Gun Show.

Locally on Friday morning either in the paper or on the radio you’re going to hear the name Mike Henry. Mike’s the guy who produce’s Barry Switzer’s TV show Coach’s Cabana and he will be in town Friday. Rumor has it that Barry will be with him and it’s a good bet the pair will be at Arvest’s Friday Forum and at Dink’s or Sterling’s for lunch.

Thanks for reading and till next time I’ll see ya down the road……………….


The 4 StateFarm Show

Welcome back. I recently returned from Pittsburg, Kansas which is the home of Pittsburg State University and was also the home of the Four State Farm Show. Friends, these are the folks who feed us all and I was honored to be invited to be a part of the show. Of course they had all kinds of balers, mowers and rakes but they also had skid steers building and tractors of all kinds and sizes. Metal building contractors were thick and there were several types of generators on display.

The three day show included numerous demonstrations and lots of good food. Although the organizers had me in a booth autographing books, I was able to check out a demonstration of an irrigation system which was quite refreshing in the 108 degree heat.
I soon discovered that this farm show wasn’t just for local farmers. Folks I visited with came from around the country to see the state of the art equipment available for growing food. I’ve also got to say that you would have a hard time finding a friendlier bunch of Americans. Yes, the cattle pens and brush hogs, the roto mixers and the stock trailers are all behind me now in my life but I can’t remember when I’ve spent a more interesting weekend in quite a while.

This was the 44th year for the Farm Show and the vendors and equipment covered twenty-five acres. I’d never heard of the show before and when I got the chance to talk with Lance Markley who is the show coordinator I learned that next year the date of the show will be moved to May 3rd, 4th& 5th to beat the heat. Lance is also the publisher of Farm Talk which is a must read if you farm.
Farm Talk is the main sponsor of the Farm Show and thumbing through it I found more than one thing I needed. Farm Talk isn’t a newspaper, it’s a farmers’ and ranchers’ paper with articles and tips written by experts in these fields. They cover everything from droughts to floods and bugs to fertilizer. If you want to about the grain market or maybe wheat futures, this is your paper. Looking for a seminar on raising cattle or horses? This is where you’ll find one.

Agriculture may not be something the average city dweller thinks about regularly but Farm Talk is definitely an interesting read. The paper is based is Parsons, Kansas and can be a bit hard to find in our area so if you want a copy give ‘em a call at (800) 356-8255.
I thought I’d leave this subject with a few quotes from a Farm Talk column by Mark Parker listing the signs that old age is edging up on you:

‘A young farmer mentions something “going viral” so you suggest he call the vet.”
“In the city you ask a kid if there’s a phone booth nearby and he says “What’s a phone booth?”
“This YouTube thing, it’s something you inflate right?”

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….

Pistol Pete

Welcome back. Now after nearly 80 years, name of the author is almost lost in time but her writing about the life story of one man in particular is still read daily. Her name was Eva Gillhouse and like me, during the writing of my book Footprints in the Dew Eva sat day after day interviewing her subject. Unlike my subject though, Eva’s book would be about a man of the law.

Born on October 26, 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, his father moved the family to Kansas along the Santa Fe Trail while he was young. It was just after the Civil War and at 8 years old the boy watched as former Confederates, called regulators, shot his father eight times on the front porch of their house killing him. That was in 1868 and although he was still a child after that he became the best shot the soldiers at Fort Gibson had ever seen. You see the boy had been cursed.

“My boy may an old man’s curse rest upon you if you do not try to avenge your father.”

This statement was made to him by his father’s best friend as they laid his dad in the grave. When he got older he moved to Indian Territory and grew to be a man, all the time searching for the men responsible for killing his father.

The man Eva wrote about would become a top cowboy, a scout for the Calvary, an Indian fighter when he had to be and Deputy United States Marshall under Judge Parker, the so-called “hanging judge” in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He brought in cattle rustlers and murders, many slung over their saddles killed when they refused to give up peacefully He had a lightning fast draw and up until the day he died in 1958 at the age of 98 Eva said he never lost his memory or that draw.

You may have guessed the man’s name by now, but if not here’s a couple more clues. In 1923 he gave permission for Oklahoma A&M which nowadays is called Oklahoma State University to use his photograph for the design of the college emblem. The University’s beloved mascot was based on this photograph as well. New Mexico State University and the University of Wyoming also received permission to use his likeness.

This well-known man’s name was Frank Eaton or as he is more commonly known to thousands of college students and graduates, Pistol Pete. And yes, he did catch up with the regulators who had killed his father and lifted the curse.

A Veteran of the Old West: Pistol Pete is hard to find but your Bartlesville Library has a copy. Eva Gillhouse did a wonderful job researching and writing the book even though today she is mostly forgotten like so many of us writers.

Next up Shawnee, Oklahoma where the oldest hamburger chain in the country started and where I will be working at another trade show. The following week I’ll be close to home at the R&K Gun & Knife Show in Tulsa. Before long the college football season will be starting too and once again I have the good fortune to be doing some book signings with Joe “Silver Shows” Washington and rumor has it he’ll be in Bartlesville soon. I’ll let you know.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…………….

The Spirit of Waite Phillips

Welcome back. In his book of epigrams the great Waite Phillips wrote many things one of which was “the only things we keep permanently are those we give away” and Waite gave a lot away. Of course there was land, I’ve written about the Philmont Scout Ranch often. Money, yes, he gave away millions of dollars and even more importantly, by his actions he inspired thousands of others to follow in his footsteps.

This phrase “the only things we keep permanently are those we give away” can apply to small acts of generosity as well as big ones. I learned this two weeks ago when one of G.B. Williams’ heirs brought me a very old photograph of what is now the Rogers State University Building when it was under construction. Some of you may remember that G.B. was one of the leading builders in the area for many years. When the photo was taken only the steel framework of the building had been completed and a large crowd had gathered to watch the building going up. Of course at the time there was no Phillips building or Arvest drive-thru bank. No Weeze’s Café or even paved streets. The photo had been sitting in G.B.’s office for years until his death and then it was stored in a box until it was given to me.

In search of a permanent home for the photo, my first thought was the Bartlesville History Museum although I thought they might already have similar photos in their collection. However when I contacted them they were very excited so I called G.B.’s daughter about the donation and she was all for it. Two days after dropping the photo off at the museum, a letter arrived thanking me profusely as this turned out to be the only photo in existence of an important part of Bartlesville’s history. The photo is not on display yet but if you tell the staff you want to see the item that was recently donated by the G.B. Williams family, they will show it to you. Yes, this is just a small example of putting Waite’s beliefs into action and now the photo is available for all to see. You may also have something laying around in your house that does not mean much to you but would be as good as gold to the History Museum, Woolaroc or the Dewey Hotel.

This epigram of Waite’s was not the only one he believed in and his son Chope remembered he carried a type written list of them in his pocket every day of his life. For fifty years he never went anywhere without that list in his pocket and as Chope said, it must have been important to him. Here are just a few words from a man who led a very successful and useful life and whom I admire and look up to:

“The man who never makes mistakes never makes much of anything.” Waite Phillips

“Greediness, in all its various forms, is one of man’s worst enemies and also the source of many others.” Waite Phillips

“A man only learns in two ways-one is by reading and the other is by association with smarter people.” Will Rogers

“We do our best and most constructive thinking when alone for its only in silence that God speaks to us.” Waite Phillips.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road….

Fair Meadows Race Track, Tulsa, OK

Welcome back. The horse racing industry here in Oklahoma dates way back to before statehood and while I was in Tulsa this past Thursday to check out the new construction going on at the fairgrounds, I had the opportunity to catch a couple of races. Back in the days when Oklahoma was still known as Indian Territory, horse racing was the number one sport. Yes, according to Oklahoma Historical Society, horse racing was popular among both Native Americans and settlers. Even as recently as 2013, a survey showed that that racing brought in $223 million in revenues for the state and employed 6,400 people. The historical society also noted that at the time there were 14,000 race horses and 800 breeding horses in Oklahoma.

My research showed that the biggest jump in the racing industry took place after World War II when dozens of breeding and training facilities opened here and I didn’t know it but many towns had their own tracks back then. Of course there was no Oklahoma City Thunder, or professional baseball, just horse racing and it was the leading sport for entertainment.

In 1989 Tulsa opened its own horse racing track called Fair Meadows. Ron Shotts who was a well-known running back from the University of Oklahoma became the first racing director there. In the beginning, the horse races were held during the Tulsa State Fair. From the mid-1990s to the early 2000s Fair Meadows was a huge success with attendance averaging around 6,000 people per day. The famous soccer player Charlie Mitchell from the New York City Cosmos, opened a restaurant under the grand stands and live bands played before every race. As you can imagine parking was difficult in those days so shuttles ran back and forth from nearby malls.

The Tulsa Fairgrounds were wild and crazy all the time when the horses were running but all that changed when Indian casino gaming came into existence. Prior to the casinos, the race tracks were the only legal place to gamble but that ended. The crowds shrank and Ron retired but the track remains and friends it is still open every year from June to July, Thursday through Sunday. It’s a place where you can watch some of the finest athletes in the world run and it’s all free. Things are not as wild as they were in 1989 but it’s just as fun and for me being at the races has brought back some great memories. I worked for Ron at the track and lived right there doing security during those first few year of operation and all those stories and more will be coming out in a new book which I hope to publish this fall called “Before the Dew.”

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road……………….



Welcome back. Pawhuska, Oklahoma is the home of the Osage tribe and of course Ree Drummond’s Mercantile. I had the opportunity to visit Ree’s place on Friday and friends there is still a long line to get in. Yes, a year and a half after opening there were hundreds of people waiting to get in and they were also shopping at the many new stores that have opened in town. Pawhuska has two new hotels that just opened right downtown as well. Ree opened The Boardinghouse in a building she renovated next to the Mercantile and the landmark Triangle Building has been converted into a hotel. I was told that the Triangle will be run by the same people who operated the famous Mayo Hotel in Tulsa. In addition, Ree has opened a pizza restaurant with a full bar which is a first for Pawhuska and I understand she and her husband Ladd are planning a steak house too.

In Bartlesville the Drummonds have bought several pieces of property including the old Page milk plant that sits across the street from the Schlumberger complex on Frank Phillips Boulevard. The building was abandoned for years but now my sources tell me it’s going to be a bakery. Whatever it is, everyone in Bartlesville should be happy.

The original purpose of my trip to Pawhuska was not to give a report on the Drummond business empire, but rather to visit with the folks who feed us. On June 14th-17th the Osage County Cattlemen were holding their 84th annual convention at the Osage County Fairgrounds. The three day event included a trade show, a dinner and dancing and a tour of area ranches all of which sounded like fun to me. You throw in the 65th Annual Ben Johnson Steer Roping on Sunday and Pawhuska needed a dozen new hotels.

As a fellow who travels year round to a lot of big events though, the main factor drawing me to Pawhuska wasn’t all this but the possible opportunity to say hi to a big time cattleman I thought might be there. When you read his biography I’ve put together, many of you will guess who he is before I’m finished.

Born in Enid in 1931, his grandfather for whom he was named, had settled in Hominy in 1905 where he established the town’s first mercantile. After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1953, the man I’d come to see went on to get an M.B.A. from Stanford in 1957. A U.S. Army Veteran, after his service he came back to Oklahoma where he made a name for himself running the family ranch. The civic organizations and boards he’s served on over the years are too numerous to count. He is a past President of the Oklahoma Cattleman’s Association and a Director of the National Cattleman’s Association. He is also a founding member of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Nature Conversancy and was instrumental in establishing the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
If you haven’t figured out who I’m talking about yet, I’ll end with a quote from him:

“At the Drummond Ranch I am the spare cowboy, bookkeeper, trash hauler and bill payer.”
Yes it,s always great to say hi to Frederick Drummond.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road…..

Fires Across New Mexico

Welcome back. Regular readers know that I often travel to northern New Mexico or the “Land of Enchantment” as it’s called. Unfortunately as of this writing the precise area where I usually stay in this land of enchantment has been under siege by the Ute Park Fire. Last week the town of Cimarron, New Mexico had to be evacuated but I’m happy to report that the five hundred and forty-five professional firefighters who have been battling this fire with their ten helicopters saved the town.

The fire came within a few blocks of the historic St. James Hotel and from reports part of the fairgrounds were burned but no houses were lost. At last count about forty thousand acres have burned but it is now believed to be seventy-seven percent contained. Waite Phillips’ old ranch, the Express UUBar, has had some damage and sadly Philmont Boy Scout Ranch has had to cancel all of the treks that were planned into the mountains until July 14th. According to their website conditions will be re-evaluated at that time and events at the training center have also been cancelled until further notice.

Local scout master Charles Lewis had been planning to take his troop to Philmont this week and he and I estimate that over six hundred kids a day are missing out on the trip of a lifetime. Yes friends, kids from literally around the world who had been planning a trip to Philmont for years have now had their plans cancelled. It’s a real tragedy for many young people and I can only hope that they will be able to reschedule for another year. The heroic fire crews who have been fighting this fire around the clock deserve another mention and although the fire is still ongoing happily no lives have been lost so far.

I’m moving from one catastrophe to another as dry conditions are just as bad in southwest Colorado, another of my favorite places. Durango is known for its ties to Hollywood from a day that is now long gone as well as for an old train that takes you up the mountain to Silverton- a place that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Durango is definitely a special place but I’ve just heard from my contacts that dry conditions are taking a toll there as well.

The “416” fire that has been burning in the area has doubled in size due to high winds and over 2,000 home in its path have been evacuated. If conditions don’t improve a lot more property and some important history may be lost.

Be safe and till next time I’ll see ya down the road….


Welcome back to Part Two of the 1967 football game between Dewey and Bartlesville. If you missed last week’s article, past issues of the newspaper are available at the Examiner Enterprise office or you can catch up on their website.

The game had been hyped up for weeks; a showdown between two undefeated teams both with players who had college potential. The game was tied up with just minutes to play and the Wildcats had the ball. The defensive play called for George “Junior” Durant, the stud of both teams, to blitz Bartlesville’s quarterback Bill Berryhill. A sophomore quarterback with Junior coming after him; Dewey’s hope was that just maybe Berryhill would fumble or throw an interception and it almost worked. Junior knocked down blockers down like flies and as he was about to sack Berryhill way back for a huge loss, Berryhill passed to his tight end Bill “Alex” Dingman. Unexpectedly, Dingman was wide open without a defensive player anywhere around and the seldom used sophomore player turned and headed for the end zone which was some eighty yards away. Dewey’s star player had flattened Berryhill and now turned his attention to Dingman. Already a state finalist in track even at 15, Junior wasn’t just fast, he was lightening in a bottle and soon he was closing in.

I was standing on the sidelines when first Dingman (with fear written on his face) ran past me and then Junior came by in hot pursuit. Later Dingman said he had never run so fast in his entire life. Yes friends Junior couldn’t catch up with the boy from Bartlesville and the Wildcats won the game on that one play.

Both teams went on to have successful seasons and several players on both sides played college ball. Junior would become a major force in high school sports over the next few years but it all ended there. Although major colleges did come to Dewey to recruit him, the boy wonder who had started playing high school sports at fourteen and who was obviously capable of playing at a higher level, had one big problem he couldn’t outrun. You see he couldn’t read or write. Somehow he had gone from grade school through high school never learning anything except how to write his name but could he play football!

interesting piece of local history about a boy who at one time in our past thrilled hundreds of football fans in Dewey and Bartlesville.
Another type of entertainment came to Bartlesville on Friday when gubernatorial hopeful Mick Cornett came to town. He spoke at Arvest’s Friday Forum and he and host Jim Bohnsack drew quite a crowd .Although I’m not much into politics, Cornett was an interesting guy and I expect we’ll see more candidates coming to town as the elections get closer.

I’ll end this week with another bit of history from 1967. Hulah Lake which in the Osage Indian language means “eagle” was completed in 1951. At the time it was the largest lake in the area and with million dollar hilltop views, Hulah was an immediate hit with campers, boaters and fishermen and in 1967 it was the most popular destination in the area. Today of course there are many more lakes that are easier to get to and Hulah has been mostly forgotten but friends it’s still there and open for business. Check it out, it’s worth the drive just for the scenery.

Thanks for reading and till next time, I’ll see ya down the road……..