Saturday night Tom Phillips and Great Lakes Air pilot Joe Pann left the St. Ignace airport around 8 p.m. for the 4.5 mile, six-minute flight to Mackinac Island aboard a single-engine Piper Saratoga. Tom and his family are summer residents on the Island, and live in Washington State during the winter. It’s not known at this time what went wrong, but when the plane did not reach the island as scheduled, calls went out, and local and Coast Guard searches began on land and on the water. The searches continued all night and until the plane was located early Sunday afternoon. It had crashed about 100 yards from the shoreline of Lake Huron, just north of St. Ignace. Both men lost their lives in the crash.
I did not know Tom Phillips, but I do know his wife Sandy as a lovely and gracious lady. Joe Pann was a much loved pilot who almost daily flew Mackinac residents and visitors back and forth from St. Ignace to the Island. This tragedy strikes to the hearts of all of us who call Mackinac Island home. Our prayers go out to Sandy and her family and to the family of Joe Pann.
A special thanks to the men and women of the Mackinac Island Fire Department, Police Department, and EMT Service and to the U.S. Coast Guard for their tireless efforts in locating Tom and Joe.
Header photo: Heather May