The National Transportation Safety Board has taken over the investigation into the North Carolina death of a cargo plane co-pilot who reportedly jumped out or fell out of an aircraft without a parachute prior to an emergency landing.
On a 911 call, a Federal Aviation Administration employee described the situation involving the missing pilot as “the craziest thing ever.”
The plane reportedly had lost a wheel and made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport at about 3 p.m. local time.
“The body of Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was found the evening of July 29 in a Fuquay-Varina backyard, hours after the plane landed at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Crooks was one of two pilots on the CASA 212-200 airplane,” Raleigh TV station WRAL reported.
First responders with Wake County Emergency Management and other agencies conducting a large-scale search tragically found Crooks at around 7 p.m. that same evening at the Raleigh-area residence.
“Preliminary information indicates that the airplane sustained substantial damage to the landing gear and fuselage,” WRAL explained. The pilot, whom authorities have interviewed, reportedly received treatment for minor injuries.
In a portion of a 13-minute 911 call, an FAA air traffic controller at the Raleigh airport can be heard telling the 911 dispatcher that “we have a pilot that was inbound to the field. His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He made impact to the ground. And here are the coordinates…it was 14 miles south of the field, but he said he jumped out of the aircraft — his co-pilot jumped out without the parachute.”
The dispatcher noted later in the call that “I mean, I guess at this point in time, all we can really do is kind of do a recovery.”
Although the audio isn’t crystal clear, a different-sounding FAA controller apparently acknowledged that and added “I’ve never heard of it — it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever [heard]…”
More facts about what happened during the flight will undoubtedly emerge as the federal investigation continues.
“While the 911 call says Crooks jumped from the plane at least four times, questions remain about where the jump actually occurred. The control tower originally pegged the location as Cary and later said it was near West Lake Middle School, which is in Apex. Additionally, the 911 call released coordinates that would’ve had Crooks jump in Johnston County just south of Four Oaks, which would not have been possible based on where he was recovered,” CBS Raleigh-area affiliate WNCN, CBS 17, claimed.
Watch a report from CBS 17:
According to the deceased aviator’s purported LinkedIn page, Crooks was a certified fight instructor who was employed by Rampart Aviation, which he described as a “defense contractor airlift operation.” Rampart Aviation is based in Colorado.
The young man’s dad separately told WRAL that “He pursued his private pilot license while he was in college. I think he got that when he was a sophomore. He said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was.’
“The 10-seater plane, a CASA C-212 Aviocar, made in Spain in 1983, wasn’t making a commercial flight at the time of the incident,” the Daily Mail claimed.
Watch a report about this tragic and mysterious incident aired by Inside Edition embedded below:
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