Charles Hew Crooks jumps 3500ft to his death during mid air-emergency over North Carolina as co-pilot manages to land plane on its belly.
Why? A 911 call released Tuesday revealed that the co-pilot of a cargo plane experiencing a mid air emergency in North Carolina jumping 3500 ft out of the aircraft to his death. The incident occurred before the other pilot was able to land the disabled plane on its belly.
Two Federal Aviation Administration employees could be heard saying that Charles Hew Crooks’ leaping out of the damaged plane before it made an emergency landing at Raleigh Durham International Airport on Friday, WRAL reported.
‘This is from Raleigh Airport,’ an FAA air traffic controller can be heard saying on the recording. ‘We have a pilot who was inbound to the field. His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He made impact to the ground and here are the coordinates.’
The co-pilot’s body was discovered in the backyard of a home in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, about 30 miles south of the airport.
Hewes at the time of his death was a 23 year old student at Bucknell University.
Twenty-three-year-old co-pilot Charles Hew Crooks was found dead after exiting a plane making an emergency landing. He and an unidentified pilot took off about 90 miles from Raleigh, North Carolina, when the plane suddenly lost a wheel. pic.twitter.com/fUWzYPFEzJ
— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) August 2, 2022
‘I don’t know. This is the craziest thing ever.’
In the 13-minute call, an FAA employee said Crooks’ co-pilot had reported he ‘jumped out without the parachute, so he might have impact to the ground.’
‘I am sure the pilot is going to be shaken up,’ one FAA employee said. ‘I have no idea. He literally just said, ‘My pilot just jumped out.’’
The recording captured the FAA employees frantically trying to figure out what happened to Crooks.
‘I guess at this point in time, all we can do is recovery,’ an FAA controller told a dispatcher. ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. This is the craziest thing ever.’
Wake County Emergency Management officials told WRAL the initial 911 call was received at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The aircraft, a CASA 212-200, made an emergency landing about 18 minutes later, WRAL reported.
‘Once the aircraft had landed, it was reconfirmed based on a report the pilot said the person in the aircraft had exited the aircraft prior to landing,’ Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations Darshan Patel told the station.
Crooks’ co-pilot, whose identity hasn’t been released, was taken to a hospital for minor injuries during the landing. He was discharged later that day.
Lifelong dream was to fly
The cargo plane in question was identified as a 10-seater plane, a CASA C-212 Aviocar, made in Spain in 1983. Officials said the plane wasn’t making a commercial flight at the time of the incident.
Crooks, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was employed as a pilot by Colorado-based Rampart Aviation at the time of the doomed flight, according to his LinkedIn page.
‘I hold a commercial pilot’s license with single and multi-engine ratings along with tailwheel and high-performance endorsements,’ the profile reads.
Crooks, who was also a certified flight instructor, had previously taught clients at the North Carolina-based FlightGest Academy, according to the profile.
Crooks’ father, Hew Crooks, told WRAL that flying was his son’s ‘lifelong dream’. He said his son was a former flight instructor and was certified to fly in all types of conditions
The parent said he no idea what happened during his son’s final moments.
‘We can’t process it right now,’ he said. ‘I don’t know.’
Devin Lynch, a friend of Crooks, said the incident doesn’t match what he knew about the late pilot.
‘I’ve known Charles for three years,’ Lynch told WRAL. ‘He was a pilot from the day I met him. I’ve flown with him a few times, and I can tell you firsthand what kind of pilot he was. He followed every rule to the letter.’
Lynch said he’d like to hear what the cockpit voice recorders picked up at the time.
‘I would be interested in hearing the CVR recording because I’d like to hear what was going on in the cockpit that wasn’t being communicated to air traffic control,’ Lynch said.
Investigators have yet to confirm whether Crooks’ jump was intentional.