Coast Guard searching Lake Huron for missing plane with 2 aboard

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsCLEVELAND — Coast Guard units, joined by federal, state and local agencies, are searching Lake Huron this morning for two people in a single-engine plane that left St. Ignace, Mich., and should have reached its destination on Mackinaw Island last night.

Missing are: Joe Pann, in his late twenties; and Tom Phillips, in his late fifties. The men are reportedly from St. Ignace or Mackinaw Island.

Search and rescue controllers at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., were contacted by a Michigan State Police 911 dispatcher at 10:07 p.m. Saturday, after the dispatcher was called by a concerned family member reporting the men overdue.

The reporting source stated that the men departed St. Ignace en route to Mackinaw Island that evening in a Piper Saratoga and were expected to arrive at about 8 p.m. The flight is only about 4.5 miles and should have taken only about six minutes.

The plane is not emitting any emergency beacon, but specialists with the cellular phone provider of one of the men are using their towers to determine the possible path of his phone, which may lead to their location. So far, this search has yielded pings from both the land and the water. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center is coordinating the on-land search efforts, while search and rescue controllers at the 9th Coast Guard District are coordinating the search on the water.

After being notified, SAR controllers at the 9th District Command Center directed the launch of a rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station St. Ignace which were on scene at about 11 p.m. aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat. They also directed the launch of a rescue aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., which was on scene at about 11:30 p.m. aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter.

The MLB crew from St. Ignace searched for about six hours before reaching maximum hours for crew fatigue and were directed to return to base. The Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock is currently making preparations to get underway from Cheboygan, Mich., to resume the surface search.

The rescue helicopter crew also met their fatigue limits, departing the scene at about 5 a.m., and were replaced by a second Air Station Traverse City crew at about 5:45 a.m.

A rescue aircrew aboard an HU-25 Guardian rescue airplane from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, Mass, was also directed to launch and has arrived on scene.

Participating in the search have been crews from the Mackinaw Island Fire Department and the St. Ignace Police Department.

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