WASILLA — The Valley’s aviation community is pulling together to raise funds for a brand new automated weather observing system (AWOS) for the Wolf Lake Airport in honor of the late Mike Pannone, who died of cancer in June.
Sky Airparts International CEO Norm Chance recently started a GoFundMe campaign for the AWOS station. He said that he couldn’t say enough nice things about Pannone for his countless contributions to Alaskan aviation. He said that he was a strong community leader who loved sharing his passion for the skies and inspired many to join the industry over the years.
“Mike was a dear friend and phenomenal neighbor,” Chance said. “We’re doing this as a way of remembering him.”
According to Chance, Pannone donned many roles in the community such as serving on the Mat-Su Aviation Advisory Board.
“He was just good at motivating people to be a part of something larger than themselves... Mike was really just a great American,” Chance said. “He did anything he could to help anyone move forward in aviation. We need more guys like Mike.”
Now, those many lives Pannone touched are showing their gratitude by pledging donations to the campaign page. The page received nearly $4,000 in donations during the first day.
“It’s very encouraging, to say the least,” Chance said.
Wolf Lake Airport is located between Palmer and Wasilla.
The AWOS station will be fully automated and self-maintaining, according to Chance. He said it will provide periodic voice updates with the current weather and conditions. It will be accessible to any pilot passing through, offering a new and free safety service to locals far and wide, noting that the station will be freestanding with emergency power backup.
“It’s incredibly valuable,” Chance said. “Anybody will be able to access it. I think it will be heavily used because it’s free... This is going to be a great aviation safety asset for everyone. It’ll be good for the hospital helicopter out here. It’ll be good for State Troopers. It’s going to be good for anyone flying through the area. They’ll have accurate weather all the time, which is really good for the community… The neighborhood’s getting together and said we want to do this to benefit everyone. That’s the American way.”
Chance said that numerous members of the local aviation community have committed to donating their time and equipment to install the AWOS station. He said the GoFundMe campaign will help them acquire the materials needed for the project. He said they hope to install it by the spring of 2022.
According to Chance, these types of weather stations are not very large and proving to be an emerging and affordable trend for rural communities such as the Alaskan bush villages.
“I think you’re going to see more comm step up and do this kind of thing,” Chance said. “The more information we have, the higher level of safety we can adhere to.”
To donate to the campaign, visit
To learn more about Pannone’s life and Alaskan aviation legacy, visit frontiersman.com/obituaries/michael-lawrence-pannone/article_d1ee7322-ce0c-11eb-9330-e725c9e74eeb.html.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org