Warning: the below contains mild spoilers for the first episode of Loki.
Those who have watched the first episode of Loki may have picked up on a scene in which the God of Mischief is seen, in a flashback, hijacking a plane under the name DB Cooper.
“Brother, Heimdall, you better be ready,” he says in reference to his sibling Thor and the guard of Asgard’s Bifrost Bridge before jumping off the plane with a parachute and a bag of cash.
“I can’t believe you were DB Cooper,” Owen Wilson’s character Mobius raves to Loki in the present day. Loki tells him in reply: “I was born and I lost a bet to Thor.”
In the show, the sequence serves to illustrate Loki’s propensity to mischief. But it’s also a reference to a real-life plane hijacker whose identity has remained a mystery for 50 years.
On 24 November 2017, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper boarded a plane in Portland, Oregon, headed to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington. Cooper was later misidentified in an early news report as DB Cooper, a monicker that has remained in use since.
During the flight, Cooper handed a flight attendant a note stating he had a bomb. He demanded four parachutes and $200,000 in cash, which he received at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. There, the 36 passengers who were on the flight were released, along with two of the flight attendants.
The plane took off again at Cooper’s demand. This time, it headed to Reno, Nevada, flying at a relatively low altitude. Before landing, Cooper jumped out of the aircraft after lowering its rear stairs, according to The Associated Press.
Cooper is believed to have made his escape somewhere over southwestern Washington. He was never caught, although $6,000 in bank notes with serial numbers matching Cooper’s cash were found in 1980 a boy digging on a beach alongside the Columbia River.
In 2016, the FBI told The Associated Press it was no longer investigating the case, and didn’t want any additional tips unless people found Cooper’s money or parachutes.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press