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Dave Olson, Published September 26 2012

Odegaard’s camera memory card found at site of Sept. 7 plane crash; NTSB releases preliminary findings

FARGO – Searchers discovered a camera memory card Wednesday investigators hope will shed light on what caused a vintage war plane to crash Sept. 7, killing veteran pilot Bob Odegaard.

The National Transportation Safety Board also has released preliminary findings from its investigation into the crash, but it does not speculate on a cause.

About nine volunteers armed with metal detectors began the search around 9:30 a.m. at the Barnes County Municipal Airport, where the crash occurred during as the pilot was preparing for an air show. A searcher found the card just before noon, according to Mike Haugen, one of the searchers and a friend of Odegaard’s.

Haugen, a former North Dakota adjutant general, said the card is in the hands of federal investigators, and he said it is hoped video captured by a camera mounted on the wing of the Super Corsair that Odegaard was flying will help investigators pinpoint what went wrong.

But he said it will take some time before any conclusions can be drawn.

“I’ve been the president of an accident investigating board for the Air Force for an F-16 crash, and I’ve gone through Air Force accident investigation school. It takes a long time,” Haugen said.

The investigation will include an autopsy as well as a thorough analysis of the wreckage, according to Haugen, who said a major aim of all crash investigation is to uncover mechanical or structural deficiencies similar planes may be hiding. He said sometimes investigators never know what caused a crash.

According to the NTSB’s preliminary report:

“A witness reported that the practice routine proceeded normally. During the final barrel roll, the airplane pitched to about 10 degrees nose up and rolled left until about 10 degrees past inverted, at which point the roll slowed and ultimately stopped.

“The airplane then pitched down and started to pull through from a vertical nose down attitude. Vapor trails were visible from both wing tips from about 80 degrees to 40 degrees nose down. At this point the airplane was about 100 feet above ground level. The airplane subsequently impacted the ground in about a 10-degree nose down, wings level attitude.

“Initial ground impact was located about 500 feet from the approach threshold of runway 31, about 100 feet southwest of the edge of the runway. The debris path was oriented on a southerly bearing and was about 450 feet in length. The airplane was fragmented during the impact sequence and a post-impact fire ensued.”

The preliminary information is subject to change, the NTSB stated.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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