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Mystery of plane that vanished in 1971 with five people inside has finally been solved

Mystery of plane that vanished in 1971 with five people inside has finally been solved

An exploration team utilised sonar pictures and a remote vehicle to find the presumed wreckage.

Experts believe they’ve uncovered the wreckage of a plane that bizarrely went missing more than 50 years ago.

A private jet, carrying passengers George Nikita, Donald Myers, Frank Wilder, Richard Kirby Windsor, and Robert Ransom Williams III, mysteriously disappeared in January 1971.

At the time, the 10-seater aircraft had departed from Burlington Airport for Providence, Rhode Island, on a snowy evening.

However, the five men never made it to their destination and were later presumed dead in the wake of the jet’s absence.

For more than five decades, there have been at least 17 probes into the missing plane.

These included a search in the spring of 1971, an underwater expedition in May of the same year and another in 2014.

Garry Kozak / AP
Garry Kozak / AP

All attempts to locate the aeroplane have proved unsuccessful - until now.

Underwater explorer Garry Kozak and a team believe they’re ‘99 percent sure’ that they’ve come across the jet wreckage, says news outlet NBC.

The researchers used sonar images that pointed them to an aircraft submerged 200ft underwater near Juniper Island, South Burlington.

According to the outlet, this location is close to where the radio control tower at Burlington Airport had last pinpointed the airborne vehicle.

To see if this was the missing jet, it’s said Kozak and his team remotely operated a vehicle and came across parts featuring the same custom paint job as the plane that vanished in 1971.

Following this near-certain discovery, the families of the passengers who went down with the plane have been informed.

Barbara Nikitas, the niece of pilot George Nikita, told the Associated Press that to have the plane found 53 years later is a ‘peaceful feeling’.

“At the same time it’s a very sad feeling,” she continued. “We know what happened. We’ve seen a couple of photos. We’re struggling I think with that now."

Elsewhere Frank Wilder, named after his father who was onboard - said that the discovery has left him feeling ‘relieved’.

NBC5
NBC5

"Spending 53 years not knowing if the plane was in the lake or maybe on a mountainside around there somewhere was distressing," he told NBC.

"And again, I’m feeling relieved that I know where the plane is now, but unfortunately it’s opening other questions and we have to work on those now.”

Following Kozac’s mission, the National Transportation Safety Board is reportedly investigating to verify if it the wreckage is definitely the missing plane.

“Whether there is tangible remains, and I hate to say it that way, and worth disturbing, that’s a decision that we’ll have to figure out later and part of what we’re unpacking now,” said Charles Williams, the son of Robert Ransom Williams III.

“It’s hard when you start to think about that.”

Unfortunately, it is currently unclear how long the NTSB’s investigation will take to conclude.

Featured Image Credit: NBC5

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