New Update Emerges on North Carolina Pilot Who Jumped to His Death

by Chris Haney

Late last month, a North Carolina pilot mysteriously fell to his death before his co-pilot made an emergency landing in the grass of Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Since then, authorities have investigated the case after finding the second pilot dead behind a residential property. Now, authorities have shared new updates that are helping explain the situation that unfolded on Friday, July 29.

Per their investigation, the panicked co-pilot jumped to his death on his own accord. He became visibly upset after the aircraft sustained damage to its landing gear during a failed landing approach. The 23-year-old man, Charles Hew Crooks, leapt from the 1983 CASA C-212 Aviocar cargo plane without a parachute and plummeted to his death.

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report about the incident. Crooks’ co-pilot stated that he “became visibly upset about the hard landing.” The two pilots had to divert to another airport for an emergency landing, which made Crooks panic.

Crooks allegedly was in control during the botched landing, and afterward “may have gotten sick.” He opened the cockpit window while they were 3,500 feet in the air. Then, he lowered the ramp in the back of the aircraft. He told the pilot in command that he was going to be sick and needed air. Next, Crooks “got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized and departed the airplane via the aft ramp door.”

Crooks jumped out of the plane around 30 miles south of the Raleigh airport. Officials discovered his body in the backyard of a home in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. After receiving emergency calls from the pilot in command, Federal Aviation Administration employees called 911. Their initial 911 calls are what prompted the search for Crooks.

More Details About the Pilot and the Tragic Airplane Incident

Following a rough landing, the pilot in command survived, but officials stated the cargo plane sustained severe damage to its fuselage. He was lucky to survive, but Crooks’ panicked decision would be a deadly one.

Yesterday’s report from the NTSB shared that the two co-pilots were flying skydiving runs from Raeford West Airport. Their third run had come to a close when Crooks took the plane down for a hard landing. The cargo plane “dropped” and each pilot radioed for a go-around maneuver. However, before Crooks could get the plane to climb, the right landing gear made impact with the runway.

That’s when the pilot in command took over and issued an emergency request to land at RDU instead. The report states that Crooks got upset “about 20 minutes into the diversion to RDU, after conducting approach and emergency briefings.” After Crooks leapt from the plane, the family living at the home where his body landed told local police that they heard a loud thud in their backyard and called 911.

Crooks’ father spoke with Raleigh news outlet WRAL about his son’s tragic death. He said flying was Charles’ “lifelong dream.” He had recently told his dad that “he wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was.”