BY ERIC ULIS
The FBI documents state that flight attendant Tina Mucklow witnessed DB Cooper attempting to put the ransom from the bank bag into on of the reserve parachute containers, however, giving up because it wouldn't fit. The FBI files then state that Cooper cut shroud lines from one of the reserves for the purpose of securing the ransom in the bank bag and to his person before he jumped.
I believe this characterization is incorrect.
One of the main reasons I believe this is incorrect is because of the obvious size difference between the bank bag and reserve parachutes. Simply viewing these items side-by-side clearly shows that there would be no possible way to fit the much larger contents from the bank bag into either of the much smaller reserve parachute containers--even with the parachutes removed.
This point is illustrated below with three pictures I snapped from different angles which show a properly-sized bank bag next to an appropriate reserve. In fact, I would estimate that the volume of the reserve container would have to be approximately doubled in order to fit all of the ransom inside.
Also, note that the bank bag is quite full, a fact that I believe necessitated Cooper to remove some of the packets of ransom in order to properly cinch and secure the bank bag with shroud lines.
Therefore, in the FBI files when Tina Mucklow describes seeing Cooper wrap the ransom in a "white material," I believe what she actually witnessed was Cooper wrapping a portion of the ransom in the canopy and container of the dummy reserve. This, of course, would also explain why Cooper jumped with the dummy reserve--it was holding some of the ransom.
Notably, I believe this goes a long way toward explaining how three packets of DB Cooper's ransom--totaling approximately $5,800--were found by themselves on Tena Bar in February 1980.
Specifically, I believe Cooper landed within walking distance of Tena Bar, and recognizing that he couldn't very well walk into Vancouver carrying the large bank bag full of cash, realized he would have to temporarily bury the money--the soft sand along the Columbia River was an ideal choice.
Upon digging a hole into the sand at Tena Bar I believe Cooper placed the still-secured white bank bag into the hole along with the separate packets of twenties that he had removed from the bank bag and housed in the dummy reserve before he jumped. Then, several days later, I believe Cooper returned to Tena Bar at night with a vehicle to retrieve the ransom from its sandy hole.
It was during the retrieval process that I believe Cooper did not notice that three of the loose packets of twenties that were formerly housed in the dummy reserve were left behind. Finally, after 8 years of constant erosion at Tena Bar, these three packets were eventually unearthed.