STAFF VIDEO

Absolute Towing removes a ultralight plane from a pond where it crashed Friday afternoon near Hillsboro, killing former legislator Donald Dahl.

Former legislator dies after ultralight plane crash

Staff writers

While flying an ultralight aircraft that was being prepared for an auction on Saturday, former state Rep. Donald Dahl died in a crash Friday afternoon about two miles south of Hillsboro west of Indigo Road.

“I didn’t see it crash,” longtime friend Arnold Pete Klassen said. “I just heard a bang.”

Klassen said there was a new engine in the aircraft.

“There was a brand new engine in it,” Klassen said. “It buzzed beautifully.”

He helped Dahl take off from a building in a field northwest of where Dahl went down. Dahl was turning southwest when he passed out of Klassen’s view.

“I don’t know how he turned that quick, except for maybe the wind,” Klassen said.

Weather conditions were gusty at the time of the crash.

“The aircraft was northbound coming from the south at low altitude,” Kansas Highway Patrol officer C.E. Rust said. “The aircraft hit a tree branch, hit the ground next to the pond, flipped, and came to rest upside down in the water.”

A large branch and part of the cockpit were strewn on the muddy bank of the pond.

When Klassen found Dahl, he was not in the aircraft.

“He had been totally thrown from the vehicle,” Klassen said. “I couldn’t do anything, so we called 911, and they got here pretty fast.”

Dahl was taken by ambulance to Hillsboro Community Hospital. He later died of his injuries.

Dahl was a retired U.S. Navy pilot and served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1997 to 2008. Gov. Sam Brownback appointed him to the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission in December.

“I am greatly saddened to hear of Donald Dahl’s passing today,” Brownback said in a news release Friday. “He had a proud legacy of public service. The lieutenant governor and I extend our personal sympathy to his family and friends.”

 

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