On July 18th, 1992, a white 1978 Cessna 172 took off from an airport in Battle Creek, Michigan, with a destination of Beaver Island, in northern Lake Michigan. On board where two couples from Kalamazoo. Tom Lammon piloted the aircraft, with his wife, Peggy Sue, seated behind him. Ray Sears sat in the front passenger seat, with his wife, Catherine, sitting behind him. The plane was loaded with luggage for a weekend island getaway.
It was a muggy Saturday morning when the friends taxied down the runway at an airport in Battle Creek, a neighboring town of their native Kalamazoo. Their plane lifted off around 10:30am for what was expected to be a two-hour, 240 mile flight. The weather was warm and sunny when they left, but the skies grew cloudier as they headed north. Their flight path took them over the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula. The distance from the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, where the Grand Traverse Lighthouse is situated, to the airfield on Beaver Island, is about 35 miles. The Cessna could easily cover this distance in about twenty minutes.
An article from the Beaver Beacon, dated December 1st, 1992, describes: “The aircraft vanished from flight control radar screens in Minneapolis around noon, when it began descending shortly after passing the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, approximately thirty-five miles south of the island. Extensive search efforts by county and state authorities, the Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard and family members failed to turn up any sign of the aircraft or those on board for weeks after the crash.
On August 3rd, police recovered a small tire from the beach and several chunks of fiberglass floating close to shore near Good Hart. The tire later was identified as an aircraft tire and the fiberglass pieces where the same color as the missing plane. Their discovery led to beefed up land, air and water searches, but nothing more was found.”
Tom Lammon was 34 years old when he disappeared, and worked as a mechanic at Steel Con. His wife, Peggy Sue, was 31 and employed at the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Dept. as a control operator. Ray Sears, age 37, was an electrician and his wife, Cathy Sears was age 35. Cathy was employed at Davenport College. All four resided in the Kalamazoo area.
Somewhere beneath the wide waters of Northern Lake Michigan rests a secret. A secret held between four friends. Someday, this secret will be told. With modern day shipwreck hunters combing the waters around this Cessna’s last known position, its just a matter of time before a small target appears on one of their computer screens.