Charles Hew Crooks: North Carolina Co-Pilot Who Jumped from Aircraft Was 'Visibly Upset' after Damaging Landing Gear and Fell Ill and Vomited

. He was gasping for air and then decided to jump from the aircraft, as he might also be panicking that the plane might crash after he accidentally broke the landing gear.

The co-pilot who jumped from a small airplane in North Carolina was visibly "upset" after accidentally damaging the aircraft's landing gear during a failed landing, according to a preliminary investigation report released on Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The describes information the NTSB has gathered but does not draw any conclusions.

Charles Hew Crooks, 23, became visibly upset about the hard landing," in the minutes after they diverted to another airport for an emergency landing, the airplane's pilot told investigators. Crooks' mysterious death on July 29 captured national attention as federal officials investigate the emergency landing of the airplane he exited mid-flight.

Chilling Details

Charles Hew Crooks
Charles Hew Crooks Twitter

The preliminary investigation suggests that Crooks probably felt sick after the attempted landing failed. He was gasping for air and then decided to jump from the aircraft, as he might also be panicking that the plane might crash after he accidentally broke the landing gear.

The CASA 212 that Crooks was piloting, according to the report, had completed two skydiving runs and was returning to Raeford West Airport to pick up the third group when it suffered a rough landing and damaged its right main landing gear.


Crooks was in charge of the aircraft at the moment, but the pilot retook control and managed to get it back in the air, the pilot reported to the NTSB. Crooks was then instructed by the unnamed pilot to declare an emergency and ask for a detour to land at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The right landing gear was missing, but the pilot continued to fly the aircraft as Crooks spoke with air traffic controllers as they prepared to land at RDU, the pilot told the NTSB.

The pilot told investigators that Crooks became upset "about 20 minutes into the diversion to RDU, after conducting approach and emergency briefings," the report stated.

Charles Hew Crooks
Charles Hew Crooks Twitter

Crooks, who had been in charge during the unsuccessful landing attempt, opened his side cockpit window at 3,500 feet and "may have gotten sick," according to the report. He then indicated that he needed air and felt like getting ill by lowering the ramp in the back of the aircraft.

Crooks "got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized, and exited the airplane from the aft ramp door," according to the report.

Crash landing
The plane which Charles Hew Crooks was flying crash landed at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport Twitter

Crooks was not wearing a parachute at the time, and his body was discovered in a garden in Fuquay-Varina, about 30 miles south of Raleigh-Durham International Airport after a few hours.

Suicide or Accident

There was a hand bar within reach of the ramp, according to the report. The report states that the pilot did not notice Crooks grasp for this bar during his takeoff. Crooks "jumped" out of the aircraft without a parachute, the pilot claimed, according to audio recordings of 911 calls and radio activity.

Crash landing
The aircraft after after making a crash landing Twitter

According to 911 recordings from the Cary Police Department, the survivor pilot relayed possible coordinates of Crooks' location before landing at RDU.

"We have a pilot that was inbound to the field," a controller told the 911 dispatcher, according to the audio file. "His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He made impact to the ground and here are the coordinates."

"All we can do is recovery at this point," FAA personnel said at the end of the 911 call. "I mean, I don't know. I've never heard...this is the craziest thing I've ever heard"

Charles Hew Crooks
Charles Hew Crooks Twitter

The call lasted about 13 minutes, with the controllers stating several times that the co-pilot had jumped.

The initial 911 call, according to Wake County Emergency Management Chief of Operations Darshan Patel, was what prompted the hunt for Crooks. The National Transportation Safety Board noted in its investigation that the fuselage of the aircraft had also sustained significant damage.

According to the NTSB report, the pilot did not indicate to RDU air traffic control that Crooks had become ill or upset before he "departed" the plane. When the plane made an emergency landing at 2:50 p.m. at RDU, the pilot was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Following the incident, various law enforcement agencies conducted a thorough search using drones and a helicopter that stretched from Cary to the southern section of Wake County.

Crooks' body was found at around 7 pm behind a home in the Fuquay-Varina area of Sonoma Springs, close to Sunset Lake and Hilltop Needmore roads.