A Tragic Loss 12/5/2011

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

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22 thoughts on “A Tragic Loss 12/5/2011

  1. So very sad…my heart goes out to the family and friends of both Tom and Joe. R.I.P. Tom and Joe…we now have new angels flying over us.

  2. The grandparents of one of the men goes to our church. Have been praying hard and will continue to holds these men’s families and friends up in prayer.

  3. I did not know Tom or Joe but Al and I did speak with some islanders last year that brought up Tom in their conversation and said he was a very friendly down to earth guy. They spoke very highly of him. Such sad news today for the island. My condolences to the family and friends of both Tom and Joe.

  4. Prayers for the families, and prayers for the islanders and all connected to this tragedy especially rescue personnel. So very sorry to hear this.

  5. Prayers for the family. Several people I’ve known online have died in recent weeks. I find myself wanting to reach out and tell the family that they are known and appreciated farther than they know.

  6. Having piloted into KMCD early in my aviation career, it can be said that the Straights area is no joke, even in the best of flying conditions. Of the few times I thought it was my time in an airplane… one of those was between St Ignace and the Island. Fly west my friends…

  7. Living on our Great Lakes can be harsh. We have had many losses over the years. An Island is a close knit group that will always pull together when needed. God Bless them all. We must be ready,life here on earth is short even if you are 99 years old. Thankfully eternity is just that,eternity! Prayers being said for all that know these men as the healing must begin.

  8. Everybody was so hoping for a happy ending for this tale, sadly it was not to be. Losing family and friends at any time is challenging, at Christmas time – doubly so. Prayers to the family and communities that lost loved ones.

  9. Joe was our pilot when we flew off the island last weekend – such a nice person with a wife and 3 month old baby at home. So, so sad…

  10. I so hate to hear of such tragic news especially during the holidays. When I saw the heading to the post, my heart just sank…..I thought maybe this year the Island family would be free of tradgedy, but not so. Prayers to the families and all the Island residents who have to mourn the loss of these two men.

  11. Stunned is not even close to what I am feeling right now. My heart is broken. It is hard to comprehend. There’s is nothing that I can say that will express my sorrow. The only thing we can do is pray for the families.

  12. I was on the island this weekend when the crash happened. The island community was devastated. Father Williams gave a wonderful prayer at the Mackinac Island Christmas bazaar for the two men who lost their lives. I happened to be staying at the casino hotel on Sunday night, and drove right past the crash site (although the heavy woods made it impossible to see anything). It was a very somber feeling to know what had happened there. So very sad. God speed to both of them as they make their way to heaven.

  13. So sad. My thoughts & prayers go out to the families. Thank you for mentioning the pilot as well. As a pilot’s wife it makes me sad when the media focuses on the passengers in some crashes & barely mentions the pilot. This is devastating to the friends & family of both men.

  14. So sorry to hear of these tragic losses. I am sure with the island being such a small, closeknit community this really is losing one of your own. My heart goes out to the families and the people on the island. Hopefully during this holiday season there can also be a celebration of these precious lives. God Bless you all. You are in my prayers….

  15. Memorial Fund for the wife and child of Joe Pann (my son’s co-worker pilot) has been set up by my future daughter-in-law, checks can be sent to: First National Bank c/o Jacqueline Michels benefit for Andrea Pann, 132 N. State Street, St. Ignace, MI 49781. Thank you in advance…Tammy

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