Mystery Of Private Jet That Vanished On A Dark Snowy Night In 1971 Solved

diver and plane wreck

Photo: paul cowell photography / Moment / Getty Images

After more than 50 years, the mystery of a missing private has finally been solved. On January 21, 1971, a Jet Commander aircraft piloted by Donald Myers and George Nikita departed from Burlington, Vermont, with passengers Richard Windsor, Robert Williams, and Frank Wilde.

The plane never made it to Providence, Rhode Island, and despite 17 searches, nobody has been able to locate the missing aircraft. That search came to an end over Memorial Day weekend when Garry Kozak and a team of researchers located it about 200 feet below the surface of Lake Champlain in Vermonth.

Kozak and his team used remote-operated vehicles to scour the bottom of the lake and found several pieces of debris, including the fuselage, an instrument panel, part of an engine, and a piece of the wing. They were able to confirm it was the missing Jet Commander by using high-resolution imaging technology to identify the plane's custom paint job on the fuselage.

They kept their finding a secret until they could inform the family members of the five crash victims.

"To have this found now ... it's peaceful feeling, at the same time it's a very sad feeling," Barbara Nikitas, niece of pilot George Nikita, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We know what happened. We've seen a couple of photos. We're struggling, I think, with that now."

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