16:42 PM

Pannone, former Alaska Wing, Pacific Region commander, passes

Col. Michael L. Pannone.

Civil Air Patrol is mourning the loss of a former Alaska Wing and Pacific Region commander who served on CAP’s first Board of Governors.

Col. Michael Lawrence Pannone died on June 10. A former U.S. Marine, he was buried June 22 at Fort Richardson National Cemetery and honored the next day with a celebration of life at the Alaska Aviation Museum in Anchorage. He was 87.

Well-known as a longtime Alaskan and aviation pioneer, Pannone operated in Alaska and Western Canada for more than 50 years. He was also a 37-year volunteer with Civil Air Patrol. He served as commander of the Alaska Wing from 1992-1996 and subsequently was the only Alaskan to serve as commander of CAP’s six-state Pacific Region, doing so from 1996-2000. He twice received the Distinguished Service Award.

In 2001, he was appointed to CAP’s first Board of Governors, the organization’s top governing body, as one of two at-large members. He served on the board from February 2001-May 2003.

Brig. Gen. Rich Anderson, CAP national commander from 1993-1996 who later served on the Board of Governors, said Pannone’s leadership of the Alaska Wing was a particularly challenging assignment because of the remote Alaska geography, the sheer size of the state of Alaska, the dispersed locations of Alaska Wing units and the hardship of flying operational missions in some of the toughest terrain on the planet.

“Col. Pannone did his job with great expertise and was an invaluable member of the then-CAP National Board (now CAP Command Council). He was focused on significant policy matters and was an active and energetic participant in policy-making dialogue at the region and national levels,” Anderson said, and “made major contributions as a member of CAP’s national governing body.”

“I counted on Mike’s leadership as Alaska Wing commander during my term as CAP national commander, and his many contributions have endured to this day — and will endure beyond.”

Pannone was the owner of Aero Forensics Alaska LLC, an independent consulting group operating in the fields of aviation safety, aviation education, air traffic control systems and accident investigation. He retired in 2009 as contract site supervisor for the Raytheon Corp. in its contract to train air traffic controllers at the Anchorage Air Route Traffic Control Center. In that role, he was responsible for contract training of air traffic controllers in one en route center, two approach control facilities and three control towers.

He was the first director of the air traffic control program of the University of Anchorage's Aviation and Technology Division, beginning in 1971 as an assistant profressor.

Pannone held commercial privileges in single and multi-engine aircraft, land and sea, and was instrument-rated. During the Exxon Valdez disaster he piloted numerous missions into the Prince William Sound area as part of the rescue effort. He was among those cited for this effort by the Alaska State Legislature.

In 1991, he led the first ever fly-in of 35 general aviation aircraft from Nome across the Bering Strait to Providenia, Russia. In 2018, he was a recipient of the Federal Aviation Administration Master Pilot Award. He also was a support pilot for several Iditarod dog sled races.