‘Needle in the Hay Field’ Search Team Finds Camera Card

Volunteers searching the Barnes County Municipal Airport found a missing memory card from a camera that was mounted on a plane that crashed at the airport, killing pilot Bob Odegaard earlier this month.

Two buckets of shrapnel – the remains from the Sept. 7 plane crash – sat on a table in the terminal of the Barnes County Municipal Airport on Wednesday morning, as about a dozen volunteers gathered to search the airport grounds for the important piece of wreckage.

Odegard’s 1945 Super Corsair airplane crashed earlier this month while he was practicing barrel rolls for the Wings and Wheels Airshow, an event scheduled for Sept. 8 but was cancelled after Odegaard’s crash less than 18 hours before the gates were to open.

The search party was looking for the remains of a small digital camera that was mounted on the left wing of the aircraft, and most importantly, the camera’s memory card, which is about the size of a postage stamp.
The card was found shortly before noon by volunteer Gary Zentz from Bismarck.

“We’re looking for the needle in the hay field, not the hay stack,” said local pilot Dale Hanson before the search.

“If you’d look at it, you’d say ‘That’s a camera?’ Yeah, it is.”
The card was found about 55 yards from the initial impact zone. Hanson said there is a chance the camera could have been picked up with other wreckage. During the initial clean up the camera’s plexiglass case was found, first the front half then the back half. The back cover of the camera and the battery were also found. The pieces were discovered as far as 200 feet apart.

The high definition camera records sound and Hanson said there is information on there that could shed some light on what happened that Friday afternoon. The memory card loads on the side of the camera and it takes more pressure to load or eject the card than on a regular camera.
“On this particular camera it does take quite an effort to install or uninstall it. It’s just a push-click disconnect, but with the force out there, it could’ve easily ejected from the camera,” Hanson said.

Retired Air Force pilot Mike Haugen, one of the organizers of the search, said Odegaard’s plane hit south of the airport’s new runway and debris was scattered in a southern spray pattern. The right wing struck the ground first and there were winds from the west that afternoon. A V-shaped grid was set up in the area and volunteers searched with metal detectors and bare eyes for the card. Haugen said there is probably still plenty of debris left from the crash, including plastic, wiring, plexiglass and even wood from the 67-year-old aircraft.

“Pick up whatever you find,” Haugen told the search team. “It may not be relevant to this, but who knows?”