Minnesota Businessman Flying WWII Warbird Killed in Crash
Hamilton, MT (KROC-AM News) - A Minnesota businessman was flying an ultra-rare World War II aircraft when he was killed in a crash in western Montana.
The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office says the deadly incident occurred Tuesday morning near the airport in Hamilton Montana, which is located about 40 miles south of Missoula. A news release says initial information indicates the crash occurred during or shortly after the plane took off.
The pilot was the lone occupant of the vintage aircraft and was pronounced dead at the scene. Teams from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the plane crash.
The pilot was later identified as Paul Ehlen, the founder of the Precision Lens company in Bloomington. A statement issued by the company says Ehlen was piloting a P-40 Warhawk when it suffered a mechanical failure upon takeoff. The statement also indicates he was headed to Minneapolis from Hamilton, where he also owns a home.
"Paul was an innovative and courageous man, and his entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to helping others will continue. Above all else, Paul was a family man, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children whom he loved so dearly." - Precision Lens statement.
Just last month, a federal judge entered a $487 million judgment against Precision Lens and Paul Ehlen. In announcing the judgment, the US Attorney's Office in Minnesota indicated it was tied to a federal civil trial that led a federal jury to conclude that the company and Ehlen paid kickbacks to eye surgeons in exchange for using the company's products in cataract surgeries reimbursed by Medicare.
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