Branstetters had a love of aviation, OSU

TULSA - A plane crash that killed two of Oklahoma State University's coaching staff also claimed the lives of two other people.

Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula, were both onboard the plane that killed OSU Women's Basketball Head Coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna.

Olin, a former state senator, and Paula were both experienced pilots.  On Thursday, Olin was at the controls.

The Branstetters are listed as previous donors to the university, according to OSU's website.

The two met as students at OSU in the 1950s.  It wasn't until they were in their 40s that they decided to learn how to fly.

On June 19, 1984, Olin, Paula and the couple's son, Jack, set a world record for becoming the first family to fly over the Magnetic North Pole in a single-engine aircraft.

"We took off to explore the arctic in a single-engine plane because that was the plane we had at the time," Olin once said.  "Our point was that with faith we three ordinary people could do something extraordinary and do it without an army or a navy, just our own resources."

The trip became a two-week, 7,000-mile aviation adventure.

In 2001, the Paula G. Branstetter Aviation Scholarship was established by Olin to honor his wife and her accomplishments as a pilot.

"We believe everyone can do something extraordinary, and this scholarship is one way of encouraging others to follow their own dreams," said Olin upon establishing the scholarship.  "When we started flying, I appreciated so much that Mrs. Branstetter wasn't afraid to learn to fly.  I hope young women will feel the same way."

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