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Mon, Feb 27, 2012

Oklahoma State To Review Travel Policy

Cause Of PA-28 Crash Which Claimed Four Lives Still Unknown

A medical examiner has told the Associated Press that the 82-year-old pilot of a Piper PA-28 (similar aircraft shown in file photo) that went down for unknown reasons last year in Arkansas had no medical conditions which could explain the accident. The flight, which killed CFI Olin Branstetter, his wife and co-pilot Paula, Oklahoma State University women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna, may prompt a reevaluation of the use of small GA aircraft on recruiting trips.

The NTSB preliminary report states that on November 17, 2011, about 1610 CST, the Piper PA-28-180 hit the ground near Perryville, Arkansas during Part 91 operations. The flight originated from Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO), Stillwater, Oklahoma, about 1415 and was destined for North Little Rock Municipal Airport (ORK), North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Radar data showed the airplane level at 7,000 feet mean sea level on a southeasterly heading. At 1610:49, the airplane entered a right turn and began descending, disappearing from radar. There were no reported ATC communications with the pilot.

Witnesses reported the plane was flying at a low altitude and making turns. They then observed the airplane enter a steep nose-low attitude prior to descending toward the terrain.

The AP obtained Branstetter's autopsy report, which it say indicated the pilot's death was immediate, and that all four occupants of the plane died as a result of crash injuries, but that the condition of the remains precluded further analysis. There were no drugs found in a toxicology report.

The Oklahoman reports the university plans to review its travel policy. Currently, it states that student-athletes may not travel in single-engine airplanes while representing the university, but coaches traveling without students have the option.

FMI: http://osu.okstate.edu/

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