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NTSB Releases First Report In Crash That Killed 2 OSU Coaches, 2 Supporters

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The plane went down in Arkansas on November 17, 2011. The plane went down in Arkansas on November 17, 2011.
The crash killed OSU supporters Olin and Paula Branstetter and coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna. The crash killed OSU supporters Olin and Paula Branstetter and coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna.
Perryville, Arkansas -

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its first report on the plane crash on November 17, 2011 that killed two OSU women's basketball coaches and two others.

According to the NTSB's Preliminary Report, the plane was making turns and took a nose dive before it crashed into dense woods in Arkansas two weeks ago.

Read the NTSB's Preliminary Report.

The NTSB has not identified a cause of the crash yet.  But aviation experts say the initial report offers a few clues as to what could have brought the plane down.

One week after the OSU family grieved the loss of women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna, and alumni Olin and Paula Branstetter, federal investigators are still trying to figure out what caused their plane to crash into these Arkansas woods.

OSU Plane Crash page

The report says the plane landed in Stillwater, picked up two passengers and took off for North Little Rock Airport thirty minutes later. There was no flight plan or contact with air traffic control.

"It's not unusual in small short bursts," said Will Kavanagh, pilot.

SkyNews6 pilot Will Kavanagh has logged thousands of hours in the skies and is a certified flight instructor. He points out the preliminary report indicates the plane didn't receive any services at the Stillwater airport, but that doesn't necessarily mean the plane was short on fuel.

"Yes, it is possible for when he left Stillwater to be just below full, somewhere around the tabs, and still make it to North Little Rock with the weight he had," he said.

The NTSB report says two hours after the plane left Stillwater, radar indicated it was flying at 7,000 feet and made a right turn and started to descend.

The report says eyewitnesses near the accident site reported the plane was flying low, making turns, and made a "steep" nose dive, before the crash.

"When you're looking at landing into the trees, something right below you, and not trying to move to a larger area, that almost suggests something more medical or mechanical," Kavanagh said.

Bill Christiansen of Christiansen Aviation also thought the initial information pointed to either a mechanical failure or a medical emergency.  He says this doesn't appear to be a controlled descent for emergency landing.

The NTSB usually releases three reports on fatal crashes; the Preliminary, the Factual and the Probable Cause, in that order.  

In a Preliminary Report, the NTSB investigator assigned to the crash does not offer any conclusions or even speculation about the cause of the crash.   

It usually takes many months for the NTSB to release all three reports on a single crash, but it can sometimes take more than a year.

11/18/2011:  Related Story:  OSU's Women Basketball Coach And Assistant Killed In Plane Crash

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