In 1971, the hijacker, identified as “D.B. Cooper”, jumps from an airliner by using the rear exit. He jumps on a clear day, parachuting into a forest in Washington State. The man is later identified as Jim Meade, an ex-Army man with big dreams. Meade escapes the manhunt using a Jeep he had previously hidden in the forest and concealing the money in the carcass of a deer. He eventually meets up with his estranged wife Hannah, who operates a river rafting company. Meanwhile, Meade is being hunted by Bill Gruen, an insurance investigator who was Meade’s sergeant in the Army, and Meade’s Army buddy, Remson, who remembered Meade talking about hijacking an aircraft.
Gruen confronts the Meades at the rafting company, but they escape down the river. The Meades lead Gruen and Remson on a cross-country chase involving various stolen cars. Gruen is fired by his employer, but continues the chase to claim the money for himself. At the aircraft boneyard near Tucson, Arizona, the Meades acquire a hot-air balloon, but Gruen steals the money from Hannah. Meade chases him down with a barely functioning Boeing-Stearman PT-17 crop duster biplane. Meade runs Gruen off the road but crashes his aircraft.
Recovering from the wrecks, Meade has Gruen’s gun and for a few minutes, they discuss how Gruen knew that Meade was D. B. Cooper. Along with clues he had left, the previous encounters between the two men in the Army had convinced Gruen that only Meade could have pulled off the audacious hijacking.
Meade leaves Gruen with a couple bundles of the cash, and walks away with the rest, to be picked up by Hannah. With Gruen abandoning the pursuit, it is up to Remson to try to recover the stolen money. When he reaches a crossroads the Meades have just passed, thinking he sees their truck parked nearby, Remson continues the chase.