The Roanoke Times is reporting that a 23-year-old Raleigh man, Charles Hew Crooks, was identified as the co-pilot who exited a plane mid-flight prior to the pilot making an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Friday afternoon. . The verification came Friday from the Fuquay-Varina Police Department in a Facebook post,
Crooks was a pilot for Rampart Aviation, which offers commercial aircraft training and training for the Department of Defense. The aircraft carrying Crooks and another pilot whose name has not been released, and was registered to Spore LTD, a company managed by Rampart.
Mystery in the air
Earlier Friday afternoon the turboprop plane had attempted a landing near a private airport in Raeford when the right wheel fell off. Air traffic control was notified about the emergency but it’s not known whether it was Crooks or the unidentified pilot. The News & Observer reported that the caller confirmed there were two people aboard the plane.
According to a recording of the exchange one of the pilots said to air traffic control, “We were attempting to land, made contact with the ground, had a hard landing and decided to go around and at that point, we lost the wheel,”
Still no definite answers
During the call, the pilots requested an emergency landing at RDU but when the plane arrived on RDU Runway 5R-23L and veered onto the grass at 2:50 p.m. only one pilot was in the plane. He was taken to Duke University Hospital with minor injuries according to the N&O.
The surviving pilot according to ABC11 told authorities that the co-pilot had jumped out of the aircraft prior tp the landing, There is no explanation for why Crooks jumped without a parachute. His body was found in a backyard of a nearby home around 7:00 p.m. The father of the deceased spoke to PEOPLE and said the family cannot imagine what happened.