Plane Crash Victim Was Executive of Trailer Company

Highland Park resident Phillip Pines, 76, died in a plane crash on Sept. 5.

The Highland Park pilot and lone victim of the  in a Mount Pleasant field was an entrepreneur and former company president of Great Dane Trailers.

Phillip Pines, 76, died when the Socata TBM 700 single-engine aircraft he was flying from Wausau to Waukegan landed in the field just west of Roma Lodge. He was about 34 minutes into his 45-minute flight when he radioed about having trouble maintaining altitude. Pines was turning back toward Batten Airport when he suddenly came down just away from the shoulder of Spring Street and skidded to a halt in the field.

Impact caused the fuselage to split and the tail boom to fall. Pines is suspected to have suffered severe crush injuries from the impact. His autopsy was conducted on Sept. 7, but results were not available as of 3 pm.

Earlier: Highland Park Pilot Dies in Plane Crash.

Mount Pleasant Police called his actions heroic for steering the plane clear of nearby subdivisions and the busy roadway.

On Sept. 6, company officials issued a statement.

“Phill’s contributions to the success of Great Dane were many, including his unrelenting focus and drive to grow the company and solidify its preeminent position in our industry,” said William Crown, president and CEO. “He left an indelible mark on our company, successfully ingraining into the organization a culture of strength and excellence. I speak for our board of directors and employees in saying we are deeply saddened by his passing. Phill will be truly missed, and our deepest sympathies go out to his wife, Joan, and the Pines family.”

The statement tells how Pines and his father, Leo, started the Pines Trailer Company in 1965. They formed a partnership with the Crown family in 1988, and after acquiring Great Dane Trailers, Pines became the President and Chief Operating Officer. He retired in 2010.

John Brannen of the National Transportation Safety Board at a Sept 6 press conference said he believed that Pines first flew the Socata in 2010. NTSB crews moved the plane to a hangar in Oshkosh so officials can continue investigating exactly what caused Pines to report his altitude problem. Brannen said it could be six months to a year before anything is known.

The plane itself was worth over $3 million and cost over $525 an hour to maintain and operate.

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