NC pilot falls from plane and dies during emergency landing

MORRISVILLE, North Carolina (WNCN) – New details have emerged about the hours leading up to a plane’s emergency landing in North Carolina and the co-pilot’s mysterious mid-air exit and fatal fall.

Around 3:20 p.m. Friday, a medium cargo plane made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina. The twin-engine CASA CN-212 Aviocar, manufactured in Spain and registered with Colorado-based Spore LTD, landed on a runway and veered into the grass.

The plane initially had two people on board. First responders told Nexstar’s WNCN that one person on the plane was taken to Duke Hospital with minor injuries.

Shortly after the plane landed, local emergency units began searching for a co-pilot who fell or jumped from the plane without a parachute while in the air.

Authorities were then reported by someone who heard a noise in their yard. The co-pilot, Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was later found dead in the Sonoma Springs neighborhood, about 30 miles south of the airport.

flight tracking software shows the plane originally took off from Raeford, North Carolina at 1:10 p.m. Friday. The plane circled Raeford before heading to Raleigh, a journey of about 80 miles.

Before arriving in Raeford, flight tracking software shows the plane took off from Rocky Mount/Wilson Airport, about 50 miles west of Raleigh, at 11:52 a.m. and landed at Raeford West Airport at 12:34 p.m.

According to a news obtained registration, the co-pilots called air traffic control to inform them that the right main wheel of the landing gear had fallen off. One of the co-pilots said they tried to land at Raeford and they “made a hard landing, decided to go around and at that point we lost the wheel”.

During the flight, one of the co-pilots called Fayetteville Air Traffic Control for assistance in rerouting to Raleigh-Durham International. You can hear one say “We’ve lost our right wheel – we’d like to continue to Raleigh and make a landing.”

During the conversation, one of the men on the plane said he had enough fuel to fly in the air for another four hours before having to land. Someone finally replied, “Quick question, how do you plan to land in Raleigh-Durham? The response from one of the men was, “Get as low as you can go and I guess we’ll put him on his stomach.”

In a subsequent radio call with officials, the plane’s pilot said his co-pilot, Charles Hew Crooks, jumped out of the plane without a parachute.

Several first responders headed to the airport after the plane landed on the runway. The pilot was taken to hospital, where authorities said he was fine.

We still don’t know why Hew Crooks fell from the plane. Local and state officials are now working with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, both of which are leading the investigation.

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