Jet missing since 1971 found submerged in Vermont lake

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After fifty-three years, experts have located the wreckage of a private plane that disappeared in Lake Champlain on a snowy night in Vermont. The jet, carrying five men, vanished after leaving Burlington airport for Providence, Rhode Island, on January 27, 1971. Among those on board were two crew members and three employees of Cousins Properties, a Georgia development company working on a project in Burlington.

Despite initial searches yielding no results and the lake freezing over shortly after the plane went missing, numerous search efforts took place.

Recently, underwater searcher Garry Kozak and his team, using a remotely operated vehicle, discovered wreckage with a matching custom paint scheme in the lake close to the plane’s last tracked location. Sonar images were captured of the wreck located in 200 feet of water near Juniper Island.

Kozak expressed confidence in the discovery, stating, “With all those pieces of evidence, we’re 99% absolutely sure.” The finding brings closure and answers to the families of the victims, although it also stirs up mixed emotions and unresolved feelings.

Relatives, like Barbara Nikitas, niece of pilot George Nikita, find solace in the discovery but also grapple with sadness and new questions. Frank Wilder, whose father was a passenger on the plane, shared the distress of not knowing the fate of the aircraft for over five decades. The confirmation of the wreckage’s location provides some closure but also rekindles emotions surrounding the tragic event.

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