OSU Plane Crash Victims Leave Volunteer Legacy

Saturday, November 19th 2011, 12:49 am
By: News 9

OSU Alumni Olin Branstetter and his wife Paula were both pilots.  Both perished in the plane crash that killed two OSU basketball coaches Thursday.

Even at the time of their deaths, the Branstetters were giving back by donating their time and talents to the university they loved. Friends say the Branstetters loved flying, but they loved helping people even more.

They volunteered with Angel Flight, which is an organization that flies people with medical needs free of charge.

"He had a heart of gold," said Gene Downing, Branstetter friend and fellow Angel Flight volunteer pilot.

Downing says Oklahoma has lost a special couple.

"[They were] a husband and wife team that got along extremely well," said Downing. "I think she was as accomplished as a pilot as he was."

As avid pilots who had flown across the country, they were known for flying cancer patients where ever they needed to go free of charge.

"The greatest thing about doing it is the people you get to fly," said Downing.

Olin represented the Ponca City area as a state senator from 1986 to 1990. He and his wife Paula met at their beloved Oklahoma State University as students. Family members say as proud alumni, they were passionate about OSU sports, especially women's basketball.

In their golden years, it was the flying that they enjoyed and excelled at. Both Paula and Olin hold world records for flights they made in the North Pole.

"He could recite FAA rules, he could recite numbers, [and] landing speeds," said Downing. "He was well-informed, well-versed, well-read. You could tell that he took his flying seriously."

In the end, it was flying that left many lasting legacies from touching the lives of cancer patients, to giving back to their alma mater and giving future pilots a reason to dream with the help of the Paula Branstetter Aviation scholarship.

Family members believe Olin was flying when the plane crashed. Olin Branstetter was 82 years old.