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Jan 17, 2012 11:04 AM by Melissa Rafferty (KPAX News)

Pilot killed in Missoula-registered plane crash ID'd

MISSOULA- A close friend of the pilot killed in Monday's plane crash in Mississippi says he lost his best friend.

Richard Howarth, 48, of Meridian, MS died around 12:40 p.m. Eastern time when the plane, that was registered to M&H Ventures, LLC of Missoula, crashed for an unknown reason as it was taking off from the Philadelphia Municipal Airport.

Tracy Easom, owner of the plane, tells Montana's News Station, Howarth was flying the plane from the maintenance building at the airport to Meridian at the time of the crash.

Howarth was a decorated Iraq War veteran, a Navy fire pilot and graduated from the Top Gun program. Howarth was also a pilot for Fed Ex.

The twin engine Piper Aerostar was registered to the Missoula company. The National Transportation Safety Board is in Mississippi investigating the crash.

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