- Running on empty: EPA slashes biofuel goals because of ethanol shortage
- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
NTSB says pilot lost control in OSU plane crash
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (AP) - Investigators found no evidence of mechanical failure to explain why a pilot lost control of a small plane that nosedived into an Arkansas ridge, killing the Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach and three others, according to a federal report.
An examination of the wreckage revealed no instrument failure and no anomalies in the engine or airframe before the Piper PA-28-180 went down near Perryville, Ark., on Nov. 17, 2011, National Transportation Safety Board said in a report dated Wednesday.
Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke, 50, and assistant coach Miranda Serna, 36, were killed in the crash, along with the 82-year-old pilot, Olin Branstetter, and Branstetter’s 79-year-old wife, Paula. They were flying from Stillwater, Okla., to North Little Rock to scout two prospective high school recruits.
The NTSB concluded that the probable cause of the crash was Branstetter’s loss of control of the aircraft, but investigators found no evidence that the pilot had a medical issue that may have contributed to the accident. The board early on ruled out weather as a factor.
“The reason for the pilot’s loss of control could not be determined,” the report concluded.
According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Branstetter had passed a medical examination, was certified to be a commercial pilot and was flight-instrument rated.
The Associated Press emailed NTSB investigator Jason Aguilera seeking comment Thursday.
The report said the aircraft was flying at 7,000 feet when it turned right and started to descend, soon vanishing from radar. Branstetter didn’t contact air traffic controllers prior to hitting the ridge near Perryville, about 45 miles northwest of Little Rock. The crash occurred at 4:10 p.m.
“Witnesses who were near the accident site reported seeing the airplane 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 report states.
Authorities said hunters in the Winona Wildlife Management Area called 911 to report that they had seen a plane in trouble.
Branstetter _ a former state senator, an OSU graduate and supporter of its athletic programs _ was piloting a “donor flight” so the coaches could watch high school games. The plane was registered to him and he was also certified to be a commercial pilot.
The crash was the second major tragedy for the OSU sports program in about a decade. In January 2001, 10 men affiliated with the university’s men’s basketball team died in a plane crash as they headed home after a game in Colorado. The NTSB attributed the crash to a power loss aboard the aircraft and said the pilot suffered disorientation.
The university introduced rules after that crash to prevent players from traveling on single-engine planes such as the one that went down in Arkansas. Since the most recent accident, OSU has expanded the rule to include coaches and staff, and pilots and aircraft must be reviewed by an aviation consultant.
Follow Chuck Bartels on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cbartelsLIT
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Russian bombers buzz U.K. airspace; jets scrambled to chase off 'Bears'
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- ISTOOK: Obama's sleight of hand hides hidden government's work
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014