North Carolina pilot who died in fall from plane jumped out, air traffic controllers say


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The North Carolina pilot who died after falling out of a plane actually jumped out of the aircraft, according to a recording of a 911 call his co-pilot made after the incident.

Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was flying a 10-person aircraft with only one other co-pilot on board when he fell to his death on July 29. It was initially unclear whether he fell out of the plane or jumped of his own accord. A recording of a 911 call from air traffic controllers indicates the man jumped, however.

Controllers made the call to police shortly after speaking with the remaining co-pilot. They indicated that the co-pilot had told them the Crooks had jumped out of the damaged plane, leaving the co-pilot to conduct an emergency landing.

“We have a pilot that was inbound to the field,” a controller said on the call, according to WNCN. “His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He made impact to the ground and here are the coordinates.

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Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations Darshan Patel speaks with a group of reporters on July 29, 2022.
(Wake County Government/Twitter)

Authorities say the plane suffered damage to its fuselage and its landing germ at some point prior to the emergency landing.

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Police are still investigating the incident and have not made a final determination on whether Crooks jumped.

Crooks did not have a parachute, and his body was found after a family reported it landing a stone’s throw from their house.

The man’s father says Crooks had been working as a flight instructor for roughly a year, according to WRAL. He was at a loss for how his son might have jumped.

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“He said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was,” he told the station, adding: “I can’t imagine what happened.”



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