MARION COUNTY, Kan. -

The National Transportation Safety Board says in a preliminary report a plane crash that killed a former Kansas lawmaker happened when the plane collided with a tree.

The plane went down in a pond on 170th Rd., about a half-mile west of Indigo, and two miles south of Hillsboro, around 1:45 p.m. Friday, April 18.

The pilot was identified as Donald Dahl, 69, of Hillsboro, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol. Dahl was a former Kansas state representative, who served the 70th district from 1996 until 2008. The Republican leader was speaker pro tem in 2007 and 2008.

Troopers with the Kansas Highway Patrol said the plane was an ultralight aircraft. A preliminary report from the NTSB says the pilot ran into a tree branch about 15 feet high, then was ejected onto the ground near a pond. The plane flipped upside down into the water.The pilot was unconscious when emergency crews arrived at the scene. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died from his injuries, troopers said.

Neighbors said the plane did not belong to Dahl, rather he was test flying it before it sold at auction on Saturday. A friend who was helping him prepare the ultralight for flight said he lost sight of the plane after it took off, then he heard a *bang*. That's when he saw that the plane had crashed.

"He had a proud legacy of public service. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he served the people of Kansas as a representative for six terms."

- Gov. Sam Brownback

Gov. Sam Brownback appointed Dahl to the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission in December. 

Brownback said he was saddened to hear of Dahl's passing.

"He had a proud legacy of public service," Brownback said in a statement. "A veteran of the U.S. Navy, he served the people of Kansas as a representative for six terms. The Lt. Governor and I extend our personal sympathy to his family and friends."

The Federal Aviation Administration has been called to help investigate the cause of the crash.

The NTSB says it doesn't appear the engine was malfunctioning for the duration of the flight.