Nearly 50 years ago, an esteemed astronaut quietly documented the coordinates of treasure locations during his job with NASA. As he was sent on missions to detect nuclear sites, he discovered anomalies that he would keep secret for decades after he retired.
Before he passed away, he gave the life-changing information to a man he considered a son, and from that, an entire Discovery Channel series was created. The show follows the incredible discoveries made from the astronaut’s calculations, which are now making history.
Who is Gordon Cooper?
Leroy Gordon “Gordo” Cooper Jr. was the youngest of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first manned space program of the United States. Cooper piloted the longest and final Mercury spaceflight in 1963 and he was the first American to sleep in space during that 34-hour mission. He was also selected as backup Commander for the May 1969 Apollo 10 mission.
Career at NASA
During his time at NASA, Cooper held the title of being a record-breaker. He died suddenly in 2004 from heart failure, but not before leaving behind a life-changing piece of information. While on the Mercury 9 Faith 7 expedition, Cooper discovered a series of anomalies, which he concluded might be shipwrecks.
Mapping Secret Discoveries
When he arrived back on Earth, he began a decades-long research process, making a map of his discoveries and tracking down information about which sunken ships might correspond to the locations he’d seen. After his passing, a man named Darrell Miklos picked up where Cooper left off.
Once in a Lifetime Opportunity
“I’m probably the only person on the planet that’s in this particular situation,” Miklos told Vanity Fair. “It’s a one-off story. There is nothing like it. I doubt there will be anything like it in the future. And I’m extremely fortunate to have been gifted this information from a friend of mine who entrusted me with this … I think we’re about to embark on something so historical it’s definitely going to make news.”
Treasure hunting has been a Miklos’ family tradition. Miklos has an estranged relationship with his father, Roger Miklos, who was also a treasure hunter who had amazing success during his lifetime. Roger helped to finance expeditions that he didn’t go on at all and he was involved in some of the most valuable discoveries of the past four decades.
Roger Miklos met astronaut Gordon Cooper during his career and the two bonded over their mutual enthusiasm for treasure hunting. Sadly, Roger passed away in 2018, but not before passing his treasure hunting knowledge to his son. The first time Miklos met Cooper was when his dad appeared on the Merv Griffin Show, and Cooper was a guest on the same episode.
Meeting Gordon Cooper
“I met him in the back room, and I was awestruck by his presence because he was an astronaut and actually went into space,” Miklos told Vanity Fair. Years later, they shared an office together and developed a father-son-like bond. “I think that’s why he entrusted me with the chart, or treasure map from space, as well as all the files that went along with it,” Miklos said.
The journey to following Cooper’s sunken shipwreck map in hopes of finding buried treasure is detailed on a Discovery Channel series called Cooper’s Treasure. “The series follows the group of treasure hunters as they dive on sites photographed by Cooper 50 years ago from space in the hope of unearthing the sea’s secrets,” according to the show’s description.
Strained Relationship with His Father
In the first episode of the show, viewers got to see how strained Miklos’ relationship with his father was. For that reason, he’s even more grateful for his relationship with Cooper. Miklos admitted he was unsure why the rift formed between him and his father in the first place but he explained how the nature of their family’s traditional profession didn’t help their situation.
Treasure Hunting is a Difficult Job
Treasure hunting is much more difficult than anyone could imagine. “You have to get the permits; you have to put together the right professional crew; you have to get your family backing on it; you have to get financial backing; you have to research the material you have and in some cases researching that material can take years,” Miklos said. That’s why Cooper’s work is so valuable.
Cooper’s Information was Spot On
“The material that Gordon gave me, he’s spot on,” Miklos said. “I probably wouldn’t find 95 percent of this without that material at hand.” The map that Cooper created during his space mission was huge. It covers Florida, the entire Atlantic, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Excavating the entire span will take decades and Miklos is convinced that he’ll have to hand the project off to someone else in the future.
Time is of the Essence
He explains that he’ll have to do this before the information is exhausted, although he says he has no intention of giving up any time soon. Especially after finding shipwreck material in all five of the spots he and his team have located thus far. “At this moment, I’m never giving up. I will not give up, and you can quote me on this one,” Miklos said.
Never Giving Up
“I am not giving up, nor will I ever give up, until I discover Cooper’s treasure. And there’s a lot of it out there. And we’re on a trail that we believe is going to give us huge success. I made this decision. This is my life now, and it will be my life until I pass it on to somebody else,” he told Vanity Fair. So far, Miklos and his team have looked into five of the anomalies Cooper listed and at each one, just like Cooper believed, they found shipwreck material.
Discoveries from the 1700s
They also located a pile of six cannons dating back to the 1700s. “One possibility is that the ship dumped the cannons because it was taking on so much water, they needed to get rid of all things heavy,” Miklos told Fox News. Another possible scenario is that the ship was tossed around so much that the cannons sunk with the ship. Either way, he believed that finding the cannons were a sure sign that the ship’s final resting place was somewhere nearby.
Identifying Ship Debris
Survey specialist Mike Perna charted multiple unidentified anomalies in the search area with a magnetometer in one of Cooper’s Treasure episodes. In order to investigate the large area more thoroughly, Miklos and his team decided to tow themselves behind a boat to identify artifacts visually. In doing so, they identified 40 or more ship pins and scattered ballast.
Anchor from Christopher Columbus
In the first season of the show, the crew used the map to make a remarkable find in the Caribbean: a centuries-old anchor believed to be from one of Christopher Columbus’s ships. After analyzing the anchor, which was found near the Turks and Caicos Islands, revealed that it dated between 1492 and 1550. The size of the anchor and its estimated weight indicated that it was a “bower” anchor from a 300-ton vessel, the typical size of a Columbus-era ship.
Shipwreck in the Bahamas
In the latest season of the show (season two), Miklos set out to track down 11 shipwreck sites in the Bahamas that may be loaded with silver, gold, and other treasures, potentially worth billions of dollars. Information provided by Cooper indicates that there could be as much as 290 tons of silver alone across the 11 sites, which were visited in 1966 by Cooper’s exploration partner, Kip Wagner.
Undiscovered English Wrecks
During the season, Miklos and his team found a trail of undiscovered period English wrecks, including a Sir Francis Drake era wreck from the late 1500s. Mike Perna, the recovery expert also explains another amazing find as Miklos and his crew brought up a piece of lead sheath from underwater.
Documenting Treasure Routes
What’s truly incredible is that while Cooper did his assigned job for NASA, he was also making notes and taking photographs of the treasure routes from the old world to the new world. As he circled the Earth, Cooper specifically focused on the shallow and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and southern coast of North American. He knew something special was hidden there.
Miklos is still retracting the coordinates gifted by Cooper and doing focused dives based on the anomalies. In one of the episodes in Season 2, Miklos’ crew, including Perna, Eric Schmitt, and marine archaeologist Jim Sinclair, used a plane as they scouted the blue seas in an area called Dragon’s Teeth (a name given to the area by Cooper). The men are continuing to unearth new pieces of artifacts in new episodes of Cooper’s Treasure, as they piece together debris patterns and continue to search for recoverable treasure.