Ian Stirling, 73, of Douglas on the Isle of Man, was the pilot of a single engine Rockwell Commander flying from the Isle of Man to Blackpool Airport and was the only person on board.
Mr Stirling is currently missing.
A spokesman for Mr Stirling’s family said: “Ian was an experienced pilot who had flown this route many times. We are obviously in shock at what has happened and hoping against hope that he may be found alive.
“We’d like to thank everyone for their love and support at this difficult time and we would ask to be left alone to come to terms with what has happened.”
Contact was lost with the aircraft at shortly after 9am on Thursday (December 3rd) when the plane was about 3 miles off the Blackpool Coast over the Irish Sea.
An investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is now underway.