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Modern Mysteries

Mystery of plane that vanished in 1971 has been solved after 53 years

By T.K. Randall
June 16, 2024 · Comment icon 1 comment
Jet Commander.
The plane was a 10-seat Jet Commander (file photo). Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 Eddie Maloney
The private jet and its passengers had vanished without a trace, leading to decades of fruitless searches.
The aircraft, which took off from Burlington, Vermont in the winter of 1971 on a routine flight to Providence, Rhode Island, inexplicably disappeared a short time later.

Aboard the plane were five people - George Nikita, Donald Myers, Frank Wilder, Richard Kirby Windsor, and Robert Ransom Williams III - who were never seen or heard from again.

Efforts to locate the missing aircraft continued for some time, with 17 searches in total failing to find any trace of the plane or its missing crew and passengers.

It seemed as though the mystery of what happened would never be solved, but then last month, an underwater team using remote-operated underwater vehicles and sonar equipment discovered what appeared to be the remains of a private jet on the bottom of Lake Champlain.
The fact that the wreckage seems to match the custom liveries of the missing plane, coupled with the fact that it is located near to where it disappeared, basically confirms that this is in fact the very aircraft that went missing all those years ago.

It also means that the families of those who died in the crash finally know what happened.

"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 Associated Press.

"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.

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Comment icon #1 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 month ago
From the article: Hopefully this will bring closure. I have a friend whose son has been missing for 17 years. The not knowing is absolutely devastating.

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