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Bemidji ultralight pilot dies following crash west of town Monday; passenger airlifted

Ultralight crash (Monte Draper / Bemidji Pioneer)

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a plane crash Monday that left one man dead and another injured. Ultra-light plane pilot Jay Russell Davis, age 49 of Bemidji was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash, reported at 7:17 p.m., occurred at the Moberg Seaplane Air Base, a grass landing strip west of Bemidji off of 15th Street NW in Grant Valley Township.

In a news release, Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said witnesses reported the plane was banking through a turn - apparently preparing to land at the grass strip - when the wing struck the ground causing the plane to crash.

This aircraft is described as a "tricycle" style plane with seating for the pilot and one passenger position behind the pilot.

Davis and his passenger, 56-year-old Paul Jerome Wannarka of Bemidji, were strapped into their seats at the time of the crash.

Wannarka initially was transported by Bemidji Ambulance to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center for his injuries. He was then airlifted to a Fargo, N.D., hospital.

Witnesses told sheriff's officials that Davis was an experienced ultralight pilot.

"He had taken up several people, he was just returning" from a flight, Hodapp said Tuesday.

The news release said Davis had piloted at least three uneventful flights Monday night before the crash.

Officials from the Bemidji Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Bemidji Fire Department, and Beltrami County First Responders also responded to the crash.