We may not have solved the mystery of DB Cooper, but we've definitely solved a mystery of DB Cooper. Specifically that "DB" was a name that originated with a reporter at the Oregon Journal in Portland. The legendary hijacker actually went by "Dan." "I got the name wrong," James Long tells the Los Angeles Times. Long's story was one of the first reports on the 1971 plane hijacking that ended with Cooper parachuting out of a plane with $200,000 in cash. Long blames an error by his source or a bad phone connection for the mistake. He says the Journal ran a piece with the name "Dan Cooper" the next day, but it didn't matter. “Everybody just kept saying DB, and we gave up trying to change it," he says.
Long says he decided to come forward about accidentally creating "DB Cooper" when another journalist, who died 15 years ago, was blamed for it. In a story run after the FBI closed its investigation into the hijacking this month, the Columbia Journalism Review said the "DB" mistake originated with UPI reporter Clyde Jabin. Long says the UPI was based in the same building and Jabin got the name from his story. UPI stories are picked up by news outlets all over, so Jabin got the blame. While swapping the likely made-up "Dan Cooper" for the definitely made-up "DB Cooper" didn't hurt the investigation, it probably helped Cooper's legend. As the Times points out: "DB" is a lot more mysterious than "Dan." (Read more DB Cooper stories.)