Military officials think debris they found on an Alaskan glacier is actually the remains of a military plane that went down 60 years ago, killing all 52 people onboard.
It will take at least six years to be sure because officials need to process DNA samples from relatives and compare them to the victims' remains, according to reports.
Plane characteristics match those of the C-124A Globemaster, Capt. Jamie Dobson told the Associated Press. She said the plane was found on Colony Glacier, about 40 miles east of Anchorage.
"The ice gives up what it wants to give up when it wants to give it up," she said. "It's really in control."
The Alaska National Guard discovered the wreckage on June 10, and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command was called in to assess the site and recover material from it, according to a press release from JPAC, which specializes in recovering missing soldiers from past conflicts and returning them home.
The team found life support equipment and possible human bones, according to the release.
According to the Associated Press, the plane was coming from McChord Air Force Base in Washington state before it became the third large Air Force plane to "crash or vanish" in Alaska in November of 1952.
But the wreckage was discovered 12 miles from the crash site because the ice field migrated over the last six decades, Dobson told the Anchorage Daily News.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that the plane, then nicknamed Old Shaky, issued a distress call the afternoon it disappeared. The last thing anyone heard was, "As long as we have to land, we might as well land here."
For at least one family member of a crash victim, finding the plane meant closure.
Tonja Anderson told the Anchorage Daily News that finding the grandfather she never met made him "more real" to her.
"I called my father and said, 'They found him.' He broke down," she said. "It wasn't just a story that was told to him anymore, it was real. All he had before was the pictures."