The Timeline

September 20, 1933: Walter “Walt” R. Reca is born to Walter and Jean Detroit, MI.

1943: 10-year-old Walt ends up in juvenile detention for stealing money from pay phones.

1951: Walt enlists in army at Fort Campbell, was stationed in Germany, and became a paratrooper.

1957: The Michigan Parachute Club is established in Saginaw, Michigan.

1961: Walt enlists in the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a member of the 305th Rescue Squadron.

1962: Walt becomes acquainted with “Phil Q,” who later becomes his handle for missions.

1964: Dressed as Santa Claus, Walt parachutes down to orphans and brings them Christmas gifts.

1965: Desperate for cash, Walt commits armed robbery at a Big Boy and is caught soon after.

1971: With minimal planning, Walt single-handedly commits America’s most infamous hijacking.

1972: Walt is recruited by two strangers who use his checkered past as blackmail.

1974: Getting a new passport under the last name “Reca,” Walt begins to travel internationally.

1981: Walt is involved in an attempt to end the life of Abu Daoud in Warsaw, Poland.

1982-1983: Walt’s passport includes visits to Sierra Leone, Montréal, Saudi Arabia, Poland, London, Toronto, and Holland.

2000: At their annual reunion, Charlie gives Walt a fictional account of the D.B. Cooper hijacking. Walt’s only comment, weeks later: “You gave me too much credit. I ain’t done no planning.”

2008: For the first time, Walt explicitly admits “I am Cooper” to Charlie on Thanksgiving Day.

2009: Carl’s secret test of Walt’s DNA returns negative from the FBI, and Walt is somehow alerted.

2013: Walt confesses the hijacking to his niece Lisa as she visits due to his failing health.

February 17, 2014: Walter dies at the age of 79 at his home on President's Day in Oscoda, MI.