Remains of Long-Lost Plane Spotted in Vermont Lake

It disappeared with 5 men on board in 1971
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 11, 2024 6:38 PM CDT
Remains of Long-Lost Plane Spotted in Vermont Lake
This May 2024 image provided by Garry Kozak shows the remains of what experts believe to be is a 10-seat Jet Commander aircraft, resting on the floor of Lake Champlain off Juniper Island, Vermont.   (Garry Kozak via AP)

Fifty-three years after a private plane carrying five men disappeared on a snowy Vermont night, experts believe they have found the wreckage of the long-lost jet in Lake Champlain.

  • The corporate jet disappeared shortly after departing the Burlington airport for Providence, Rhode Island, on Jan. 27, 1971, the AP reports. Those aboard included two crew members and three employees of the Atlanta, Georgia, development company Cousin's Properties, who were working on a development project in Burlington.

  • Initial searches for the 10-seat Jet Commander turned up no wreckage and the lake froze over four days after the plane was lost. At least 17 other searches happened, until underwater searcher Garry Kozak and a team using a remotely operated vehicle last month found wreckage of a jet with the same custom paint scheme in the lake close to where the radio control tower had last tracked the plane before it disappeared.
  • "With all those pieces of evidence, we're 99% absolutely sure," Kozak said Monday. The discovery of the wreckage gives the families of the victims "some closure and answers a lot of the questions they had," he said.

  • While relatives are grateful and relieved that the plane has been found, the discovery also opens up more questions and old wounds. "To have this found now ... it's peaceful feeling, at the same time it's a very sad feeling," Barbara Nikita, niece of pilot George Nikita, told the AP on Tuesday. "We know what happened. We've seen a couple of photos. We're struggling I think with that now."
  • Charles Williams, whose father, Robert Ransom Williams III, an employee of Cousin's Properties, was on the plane, called Kozar a hero for his dedication to finding the plane.
  • The relatives of the victims plan to hold a memorial now that they know where the plane is located.
(More missing plane stories.)

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