Home Medical Factors Facing Pilots Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Aviation News Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics General Aviation Helicopters
Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Links To Other Sites Editorials Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Upcoming Events Editorials


NTSB Rules Pilot Loss Control Of Flight In A Arkansas Plane Crash That Killed 4
By Jim Douglas

February 27, 2013 - National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has concluded that the 82 year old former Oklahoma state Senator, commercial rated pilot, Olin Branstetter was responsible for the crash of Piper PA-28-180 airplane, N7746W, that killed all four people onboard. The NTSB released its findings on Thursday in which reported the probable cause(s) of this accident was “the pilot's loss of control in flight”. 

On November 17, 2011, a Piper 180 airplane departed Stillwater Regional Airport (SWO), Stillwater, Oklahoma about 2:15 PM and was enroute to North Little Rock Municipal Airport (ORK), North Little Rock, Arkansas when it crashed about 4:10 PM local time in a heavily wooded area of the Ouachita National Forest, about 8 miles southwest of Perryville, Arkansas.  

About 2 hours after departure, radar data tracked the airplane at 7,000 feet before the airplane then initiated a right, descending turn before disappearing from radar. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying low, descending, making several turns, before impacting terrain. Impact signatures were consistent with a steep, nose-low attitude. An examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies.


The purpose of the flight was to transport two Oklahoma State University (OSU) coaches to Little Rock, Arkansas, in order to support the Oklahoma State University (OSU) athletic recruitment program. OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant women's basketball coach Miranda Serna. The pilot’s wife Paula Branstetter was also onboard.  

The Branstetter was a graduate of and contributor to OSU. He volunteered his flight services to assist with the athletic department’s recruiting efforts, was not compensated for his flight time, and was not contracted by the university. 

Branstetter held Certificate(s)/Rating(s) of a Flight Instructor, Commercial, Single-engine Land and instrument rating airplane. He logged over 2200 flight hours, 350 in make and model and 278 instrument flight hours.  A autopsy was performed on Branstetter the report indicated that the condition of the remains did not allow for identification of any medical conditions which may have contributed to the crash. Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Specimens submitted were not suitable for the detection of carbon monoxide and cyanide. No ethanol or drugs were detected in the muscle.



The aircraft was manufactured in 1964, it was a 180-horsepower Lycoming engine. A review of maintenance records found that the last annual inspection was completed on November 8, 2011, at a total time of 5,800.8 hours. During the annual inspection, the mechanic noted that the muffler was inspected, removed, weld repaired, and reinstalled. An aircraft flight log was found in the wreckage. It contained flights on October 25, 2011, November 16, 2011, and a partial entry on November 17, 2011. Prior to the accident flight, the airplane had about 5,802 hours total time.  

Prior to the accident, the Oklahoma State University had limited oversight of the donor flight program. Coaches and staff were allowed to arrange travel directly with the donors without notification to the university. There was no requirement to verify pilot qualifications and airplane inspections; in this case, the pilots did not have documentation supporting the completion of currency requirements for a night landing with passengers.  

Although the athletic department had an oversight program for student athletes, coaches and staff were exempt from the requirement. OSU's travel policy has since been modified to include coaches and staff into a program similar to the oversight provided to student athletes. The new policy would include a review of pilots and aircraft by an aviation consultant.
Other News Stories (For the latest news please checkout our home page)
blog comments powered by Disqus  
Home Aviation News Aviation Stories Of Interest FAA Exam Upcoming Events Links To Other Sites General Aviation Helicopters Medical Factors Facing Pilots
Maintenance and Aircraft Mechanics Hot Air Balloon Aviation Training Handbooks Read Online Aviation History Legal Issues In Aviation Sea Planes Editorials
 ©AvStop Online Magazine                                                                 Contact Us                                                  Return To News                                          Bookmark and Share  

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine