NTSB report on 2011 OSU plane crash offers new details
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2013
1/19/13 at 4:15 AM
NTSB report: Read the report from the
National Transportation Safety Board.
A National Transportation Safety Board report released this week offers new details but gives no indication why a single-engine plane crashed in central Arkansas in 2011, killing four people associated with Oklahoma State University.
The NTSB is investigating the crash, which killed OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, 50; assistant coach Miranda Serna, 36; former state Sen. Olin Branstetter, 82; and his wife, Paula Branstetter, 79. All died Nov. 17, 2011, when their plane went down on the way to a recruiting trip in Little Rock, Ark. Olin Branstetter was the pilot of the Piper PA-28-180.
A probable cause report is expected in about three months.
The most recent report said the plane was flying low and making turns shortly before it crashed into a heavily wooded area about eight miles southeast of Perryville, Ark.
A review of maintenance records found that the plane was last inspected Nov. 8, 2011, when the muffler was removed and weld-repaired, according to the report.
The OSU flight originated from Stillwater Regional Airport about 2:15 p.m. and was headed for North Little Rock Municipal Airport. Employees at the Stillwater airport said the plane landed about 1:45 p.m., picked up two passengers and departed for Arkansas.
Personnel at the Stillwater airport recalled the plane's arrival there. Because of a hearing condition, Olin Branstetter, a certified flight instructor pilot, spoke loudly so personnel could hear his conversation with the passengers, the report states. The pilot decided that Budke would ride in the right pilot seat.
Paula Branstetter, a pilot-rated passenger, and Serna sat in the rear, with Branstetter seated behind her husband, reports show.
An autopsy noted that the condition of Olin Branstetter's remains prevented identification of any medical conditions that might have led to the crash. Toxicology tests detected no ethanol or drugs in his system.
The pilot was an OSU donor who volunteered his flight services to assist the athletic department's recruiting, the report states. Before the crash, OSU had limited oversight of the donor flight program, and coaches and staff members were allowed to arrange travel directly with donors without notifying OSU.
Also, there was no requirement to verify pilot qualifications and airplane inspections; in this case, the pilots didn't have documentation supporting the completion of currency requirements for a night landing with passengers, according to the report.
The athletic department had an oversight program for student-athletes, but coaches and staff were exempt. In late 2012, OSU modified its oversight, requiring all private planes and their pilots to undergo a review before being used for university-related travel.
In 2001, an airplane crash killed 10 men associated with OSU's men's basketball team, including two student-athletes.
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395