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PRINCETON, Minn. - Authorities in central Minnesota say a Princeton-area man was embarking on a hunting trip when his small plane went down Monday.

Mille Lacs County Sheriff Brett Lindgren says the victim, 51-year-old Kevin Covlin, was killed when his 1956 Piper Pacer crashed just west of a runway at the Princeton Airport. Covlin and his dog were headed for North Dakota to hunt.

A witness who called 911 reported hearing an explosion around 1 p.m., and seeing a man not moving and on fire inside the wreckage of the plane.

First responders found the aircraft on fire. After they put out the flames they found bothCovlin and his dog, who was in a portable kennel and amazingly survived the crash.

Sheriff Lindgren reports that the dog was taken to a vet to be checked out, and hopefully returned to his family.

The identity of the pilot will be released as soon as an autopsy is done on his remains.

FAA investigators and the Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office continue to investigate.