1971 Missing Private Jet Found in Lake Champlain After Over 50 Years

1971 Missing Private Jet Found in Lake Champlain After Over 50 Years
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Ver­mont Pri­vate Jet Mys­tery Solved: Miss­ing Plane Found in Lake Champlain

On a cold, snowy night in Jan­u­ary 1971, a 10-seat Jet Com­man­der van­ished from radar en route from Burling­ton, Ver­mont, to Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island. The plane, car­ry­ing two crew mem­bers and three pas­sen­gers, became a lin­ger­ing avi­a­tion mys­tery for over five decades.

Fam­i­lies Find Clo­sure After Wreck­age Discovery

The long-await­ed res­o­lu­tion arrived over Memo­r­i­al Day week­end in 2024. Gar­ry Kozak, an avi­a­tion expert, pin­point­ed the wreck­age of the miss­ing plane at the bot­tom of Lake Cham­plain, near Juniper Island. Uti­liz­ing advanced tech­nol­o­gy like remote-oper­at­ed vehi­cles (ROVs) and high-res­o­lu­tion imag­ing, Koza­k’s team iden­ti­fied a bro­ken fuse­lage, instru­ment pan­el, wing frag­ments, and pos­si­ble engine remains, all strong­ly sug­gest­ing it was the long-lost aircraft.

Emo­tion­al Mix for Families

News of the dis­cov­ery was with­held until fam­i­ly mem­bers, includ­ing Kristi­na Cof­fey (daugh­ter of George Niki­ta) and Frank Wilder Jr. (son of Frank Wilder), were noti­fied. Under­stand­ably, emo­tions ran high. Cof­fey expressed relief and grat­i­tude, while Wilder Jr. spoke of shock and dis­be­lief after years of uncertainty.

Next Steps: Inves­ti­ga­tion and Recovery

The dis¬≠cov¬≠ery pro¬≠vides long-sought clo¬≠sure for the fam¬≠i¬≠lies, but the retrieval of the sunken plane presents a sig¬≠nif¬≠i¬≠cant logis¬≠ti¬≠cal and finan¬≠cial chal¬≠lenge. Author¬≠i¬≠ties, in col¬≠lab¬≠o¬≠ra¬≠tion with the Nation¬≠al Trans¬≠porta¬≠tion Safe¬≠ty Board (NTSB), are now inves¬≠ti¬≠gat¬≠ing the cause of the crash.

This remark¬≠able res¬≠o¬≠lu¬≠tion to the 1971 miss¬≠ing plane case exem¬≠pli¬≠fies the unwa¬≠ver¬≠ing ded¬≠i¬≠ca¬≠tion of search teams and the endur¬≠ing resilience of fam¬≠i¬≠lies who nev¬≠er aban¬≠doned hope of find¬≠ing their loved ones.

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