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Wreckage of private jet found in Lake Champlain 53 years after it vanished

Experts believe the wreckage of a corporate private jet has been found 200 feet below the surface of Lake Champlain, more than 50 years after it mysteriously disappeared shortly after takeoff.

A private jet carrying five men took off from Burlington, Vermont on a snowy night but never arrived at its destination, Providence, Rhode Island, on January 27, 1971.

Rescue teams searching for the plane immediately after the accident were unable to find it, and Lake Champlain froze over four days after the crash.

Underwater searcher Gary Kozak and his team were able to link the 10-seater plane through the same custom paint when they used a remotely operated vehicle to find the wreckage in the lake last month.

The wreckage of the crashed plane was found 200 feet below the surface, near where the radio control tower had last tracked the plane before it disappeared.

The remains of a 10-seater private jet that went missing 53 years ago. AP

Kozak He told NBC 10 Boston He said he was “100 percent certain” the wreckage was from the missing plane.

The plane was carrying three employees of Cousins ​​Properties, the Atlanta-based development company working on the Burlington project, as well as two crew members.

The niece of pilot George Nikita described the discovery as a “sense of peace” and “very sadness.”

“I know what happened,” she said Tuesday, “I’ve seen some of the pictures, and I think we’re all struggling with that right now.”

The son of one of the passengers on the flight said he was relieved to know where the plane had landed.

“It’s been a tough experience going 53 years without knowing if the plane was in a lake or on a mountainside somewhere,” said Frank Wilder, whose father also shared the same name.

The plane in front of us disappeared shortly after taking off. NBC Boston

“And again, it’s a relief to know where the plane is now, but unfortunately it raises other questions that we now have to address.”

Kozak said the plane’s wreckage was first found at Shelburne Point in the spring of 1971 after the ice on the lake melted, but subsequent underwater searches turned up nothing, and at least 17 other searches, including as recently as 2014, have also turned up nothing.

The three others on board the plane were pilot Donald Myers and Robert Williams and Richard Windsor of Cousins ​​Properties.

The National Transportation Safety Board will determine whether the missing plane has actually been recovered.

Pilots Donald Myers and George Nikita were aboard the private plane when it crashed, along with passengers Richard Winsor, Robert Williams, and Frank Wilder. Do Network

“We are evaluating the details of what was found and the level of certainty that it can be linked definitively to the discovered debris,” spokesman Peter Knudson said in a statement to NBC10 Boston.

“Then, if any debris is recovered, we will determine what level of testing is appropriate, taking into account what is recovered and what condition it is in.”

With post wire