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Video footage shows underwater footage of 1971 jet wreckage in Lake Champlain

Experts have released underwater footage of what appears to be the remains of a ship. Corporate Private Jets More than 50 years ago, a tragic accident occurred 200 feet below the surface of Lake Champlain in Vermont.

The footage was taken by underwater searcher Gary Kozak. Associated Press — showing the dim light of the wreckage of a civilian aircraft with registration number “N400CP.”

The 10-seater Jet Commander plane disappeared shortly after taking off from Burlington. Providence, Rhode IslandJanuary 27, 1971.

The plane was carrying pilots Donald Myers and George Nikita, and passengers Richard Windsor, Robert Williams, and Frank Wilder.

Jet plane missing since 1971 found submerged in Vermont’s Lake Champlain, experts say

Footage taken by Gary Kozak shows a suspicious aircraft 53 years after it crashed into Lake Champlain. (Gary Kozak via The Associated Press)

Jet plane wreckage

The blurry footage shows a private jet that appears to have crashed on January 27, 1971. (Gary Kozak via The Associated Press)

What appeared to be an aircraft engine rose out of the lake’s murky water, along with the bright red and cream striped custom paint job of the plane, which was more than 50 years old.

Kozak and his team found the long-lost aircraft on May 19, after 17 separate attempts spanning decades by other research groups.

Kozak and Hans Hug, owner of Sonar Search and Recovery, had some good luck scanning the 490-square-mile natural lake using an EdgeTech 4125-P side-scan sonar system with high-resolution capabilities.

“With all this evidence we are 99 percent sure,” Kozak said after the discovery.

Sonar imagery from an underwater aircraft

The side of the plane wreckage left in Lake Champlain was identified by underwater search expert Gary Kozak as N400CP, which crashed after takeoff in January 1971. (Gary Kozak via The Associated Press)

This historic discovery has left the family members with mixed emotions.

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“It’s a relief to have this found now, but it’s also very sad,” said Barbara Nikita, niece of pilot George Nikita. “We know what happened. We’ve seen some of the pictures. We’re all struggling with it right now.”

Tree growing out of rocks on Lake Champlain

Tree growing out of rock, Lake Champlain, Vermont. A missing personal aircraft was discovered 200 feet deep in Lake Champlain in May 2024, 53 years after it first went missing. (Marlee Miller/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Frank Wilder’s father, also Frank Wilder, was a passenger. Inside the plane.

“It’s been tough going 53 years without knowing if the plane was in a lake or on a mountainside somewhere,” said Wilder, who lives in suburban Philadelphia. “And it’s also a relief to know where it is now, but unfortunately it raises other questions that we now have to address.”

Jet plane wreckage

Gary Kozak and his team were the first researchers to make major breakthroughs in the investigation of the plane that disappeared in 1971. (Gary Kozak via The Associated Press)

Kozak said the plane wreckage was first discovered in spring 1971 at Shelburne Point, Vermont, after ice on the lake melted.

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Kozak and his team Missing Plane Since 1971.

A representative from the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that they were investigating the information they received.

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