NTSB preliminary report says pilot appeared sick, 'apologized' before exiting plane in mid-flight

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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NTSB released its preliminary report about what happened on July 20, when a pilot fell to his death prior to an emergency landing at RDU.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report about what happened on July 20, when a pilot fell to his death prior to another pilot in the same airplane making an emergency landing at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

According to NTSB, the two pilots were doing skydiving runs in the airplane. They had successfully finished two runs and were on their way to pick up a third group of skydivers when the plane was damaged.

The pilot in charge said that the second pilot -- previously identified as Charles Hew Crooks, 23 -- was flying the approach when the plane dropped and the right main landing gear hit the runway surface.

The pilot in charge took over controls. The pilot flew a low approach where Raeford West Airport personnel confirmed the landing gear was damaged. At this point, the pilots declared an emergency and coordinated with air traffic control to make a planned emergency landing at RDU.

During the flight to RDU, the pilots reported moderate turbulence. In addition, the pilot in charge said Crooks was visibly upset about the hard landing at Raeford West Airport.

SEE ALSO: 911 calls released in incident where co-pilot exited plane that later made emergency landing at RDU

About 20 minutes into the flight to RDU, Crooks lowered the ramp in the back of the airplane and "indicated that he felt sick and needed air," according to the preliminary NTSB report.

Crooks "then got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized, and departed the airplane" via the ramp in the back of the airplane.

The pilot in charge turned the airplane to the right and briefly searched for Crooks. He notified air traffic control that Crooks appeared to have exited the airplane without a parachute.