A 911 call made by air traffic controllers suggests that a co-pilot died after exiting plane during mid-flight emergency last week may have surged, a recording released on Tuesday showed.
The body of Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was found last weekend after diving from the plane near Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday afternoon. The pilot did not have a parachute when he exited the twin-engine CASA CN-212 Aviocar, prompting questions about whether he had fallen from the plane or jumped.
The 13-minute recording of a 911 call made by two Federal Aviation Administration employees in the RDU air traffic control tower during the incident may shed light on the situation, with workers suggesting the other pilot in the plane reported that Crooks had jumped.
“It’s from Raleigh Airport. We have a pilot coming into the field. His co-pilot jumped out of the plane,” an FAA employee can be heard saying before giving the coordinates of where the incident took place.
“So they said he jumped out of the plane,” they say. “His co-pilot jumped without the parachute so he could impact the ground.”
“I guess at this point all we can really do is do some sort of recovery,” the dispatcher said at one point.
“Yeah, I know. Yeah, I mean, I don’t know,” replies another FAA employee who takes the call. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever dealt with.”
“I mean, I’m sure this pilot is going to be rocked. I have no idea. He literally just said, ‘my pilot just blew up,'” they say. The identity of the FAA workers has not been released.
There was no indication as to why Crooks might have jumped and an investigation into exactly what happened is still ongoing.
The pilot of the plane had told air traffic control that there was a problem with the landing gear and that he had requested an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
They were able to land the plane on a grassy area of the airport around 2:40 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said.
In a video obtained by NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleighthe aircraft can be seen appearing to skid off the runway and turn in a partial circle before coming to a stop.
The plane suffered significant damage to its landing gear and fuselage, according to preliminary information collected by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to The Associated Press.
A number of agencies helped track down scammers. His body was found in the Fuquay-Varina neighborhood after a resident reported an officer, saying he heard a noise behind their property.
Crooks’ father, Hew Crooks, said WRAL that her son had spent years fulfilling his dream of becoming a pilot.
“He pursued his private pilot license while he was in college. I think he got that when he was in sophomore year,” Hew Crooks said. “He wouldn’t trade places with anyone in the world. He loved where he was.”
He said his family was devastated and wondered exactly what happened to their son that day.
“I can’t imagine what happened,” he said. “We’ll find a solution, I guess.”
Hew Crooks said his son was certified to fly in all conditions and had previously been a flight instructor.
His loss, the father said, left an irreparable void in the family.
“We are a strong family and we are a very loving family. But that leaves a hole,” he said.