Authorities Investigate Plane Crash That Killed OSU Women's Basketball Coaches

Friday, November 18th 2011, 1:35 pm
By: News 9

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigators at the scene of a plane crash that killed OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna and OSU alumni and boosters Olin and Paula Branstetter.

An OSU spokesperson says it appears Olin Branstetter was piloting the plane when it crashed Thursday around 4 p.m. in Perry County, Arkansas, about 30 miles northwest of Little Rock. A hunter spotted the single-engine, four-seat Piper PA-28 Cherokee as it went down and called 911.

It's not known yet what caused the plane to crash.

The plane involved in Thursday's deadly Oklahoma State University crash was a private plane, owned by OSU donors Olin and Paula Branstetter.

We looked into the history of the plane and the university's policy regarding the use of private planes.

A family friend of the Branstetters who did not want their identity released raised concerns to The News On 6 about the University allowing the Branstetters to fly the coaching staff.

This person said Paula was a good pilot but, sadly, they would not say the same for Olin.

Family members tell us they believe 82-year-old Olin was the pilot on this trip. The Federal Aviation Administration does not have an age limit for pilots, and both of the Branstetters' licenses were current.

In fact, FAA records show Olin passed a physical exam in 2010 and only had one restriction -- for contact lenses.

We also discovered he worked as a flight instructor as recently as a year ago. The Branstetter's plane was a 1964 single engine Piper. Records show there have been no serious incidents with their plane in the past. Folks at the Ponca City Airport who knew the Branstetters say they are not aware of any issues with the plane, but maintenance records are kept by the pilots themselves.

We do know OSU changed its team travel policy after the 2001 plane crash.

Since then the university only allows teams to fly on certain types of aircraft and requires the planes and pilots to comply with several safety standards.

But according to OSU's 2007 team travel policy those standards do not apply to coaches or athletic department staff because they are allowed to fly on "other" types of aircraft based on personal preference.

OSU Administrators have not said whether they will revisit that policy because of this crash.

The NTSB has says Jason Aguilera will lead the investigation. He will also receive help from the Federal Aviation Administration, Piper Aircraft and plane engine manufacturer, Lycoming.

OSU has also sent members of its police force to the crash scene.

OSU Plane Crash page