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Decades-long aviation mystery resolved: lost jet found in Lake Champlain

In the winter of 1971, a private jet departed from Burlington, Vermont, bound for Providence, Rhode Island. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft, along with its five passengers, vanished into the cold expanse, leaving behind no trace.

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For years, the disappearance of George Nikita, Donald Myers, Frank Wilder, Richard Kirby Windsor, and Robert Ransom Williams III remained an unresolved enigma, fueling speculation and exhaustive searches.

The relentless pursuit of answers led to 17 extensive searches, all of which came up empty, until a breakthrough last month rewrote the ending of this long-standing aviation mystery.

There were 5 men on board the plane when it went down. (NBC5)

An underwater exploration team, employing advanced remote-operated vehicles and sonar technology, identified what is believed to be the wreckage of the lost jet resting on the silty floor of Lake Champlain.

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The discovery of the aircraft’s remains, bearing the distinctive custom liveries of the missing jet and located in proximity to its last known position, has all but confirmed the identity of the ill-fated plane.

This find not only closes a chapter on a decades-old search but also brings a somber closure to the families of the individuals who perished in the tragic accident.

The niece of the pilot, George Nikita, expressed a mix of relief and sorrow to the Associated Press, acknowledging the bittersweet resolution to the family’s long-held uncertainties.

“To have this found now… it’s peaceful feeling, at the same time it’s a very sad feeling,” the niece of pilot George Nikita told.

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“We know what happened. We’ve seen a couple of photos. We’re struggling I think with that now.”

Exactly what caused the plane to go down, however, continues to remain unclear.

While the discovery answers the question of ‘where,’ it does little to illuminate the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the aircraft’s tragic descent. The cause of the crash remains elusive, with investigators hoping that the newly found wreckage will provide clues to the final moments of the flight.

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Zoe Mitchell

Zoe Mitchell is an independent researcher and writer specializing in extraordinary topics. With a degree in journalism, she delves into the mysteries that lie beyond the surface of our reality.