A single man, an immense amount of cash, four parachutes and a jump from an airliner. Where does the largest manhunt in the United States lead when authorities don’t have a clue as to who the suspect might be?
For whatever reason, hundreds of people are convinced they know who D.B. Cooper was—or themselves admitted to being the most recognized hijacker in the world. Maybe it’s the extraordinary circumstantial evidence. Maybe it’s the desperate need for an answer. Maybe it’s a secret wish to make a difference in the world. But sometimes, no matter how hard we wish, no matter how hard we believe, we just can’t make something true. Today, the FBI has DNA from Cooper’s J.C. Penney clip-on tie that he left on the jet and partial fingerprints from the cocktail glasses he drank from while in flight. They can now quickly confirm or eliminate suspects.
Would you jump into a mountain forest for $1,052,000? In the dark? In the rain? In November?
In 1971, one man did. Unfortunately, the cash was stolen and the aircraft was hijacked Boeing 727 with fighter jets and FBI agents in a helicopter following it.
Was he an experienced skydiver or an ordinary criminal attempting an extraordinary theft? Did he survive and escape, or perish in a forest in Washington State? Decades later, no one knows for sure.
Alpert set up a small recording studio in his garage and had been overdubbing a tune called "Twinkle Star", written by Sol Lake, who would eventually write many of the Brass' original tunes. During a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, Alpert happened to hear a mariachi band while attending a bullfight. Following the experience, Alpert recalled that he was "inspired to find a way to musically express what [he] felt while watching the wild responses of the crowd, and hearing the brass musicians introducing each new event with rousing fanfare." Alpert adapted the trumpet style to the tune, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises to create ambiance, and renamed the song, "The Lonely Bull". He paid out of his own pocket to press the record as a single, and it spread through radio DJs until it caught on and became a Top Ten hit in 1962.
Captain Kittinger was next assigned to the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratories at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. For Project Excelsior (meaning "ever upward"), a name given to the project by Col. Stapp, as part of research into high altitude bailouts, he made a series of three extreme altitude parachute jumps from an open gondola carried aloft by large helium balloons. Kittinger's first high-altitude jump, from about 280,000 feet (80,300 meters) on November 16, 1959, was a near-disaster when an equipment malfunction caused him to lose consciousness. His automatic parachute opener in his equipment saved his life. He went into a flat spin at a rotational velocity of about 120 rpm. The g-forces at his extremities have been calculated to be over 22 times the force of gravity, setting another record. On December 11, 1959, he jumped again from about 74,700 feet (22,760 meters). For that leap, Kittinger was awarded the "Leo Stevens Parachute Medal". On August 16, 1960, he made the final jump from the Excelsior III at 496,900 feet (151,500 m). Towing a small drogue chute for initial stabilization, he fell for four minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 614 mph  (988 km/h or 274 m/s) before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, and his right hand swelled up to twice its normal size. He set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (four minutes), and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere. These are still current USAF records, but were not submitted for aerospace world records to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).