Timeline Emerges in Case of Co-Pilot Who Exited Plane

The body of Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was found Friday
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2022 7:25 AM CDT
Updated Aug 6, 2022 5:00 PM CDT
Timeline Emerges in Case of Co-Pilot Who Exited Plane
Stock photo of a twin-engine turbo prop aircraft.   (Getty Images / Tofotografie)

(Newser) – While it's still unknown what caused a co-pilot to exit a turboprop plane and fall to his death on Friday, a firmer picture of the timeline is emerging. But it remains a confusing picture. The News & Observer used FAA records to piece together the following series of events: The plane departed Raeford, North Carolina, around 1:10pm, with Charles Hew Crooks, 23, and a second unnamed pilot aboard. About 20 minutes later, the plane started circling Raeford West Airport and then experienced a hard landing on a dirt military runway near the airport. The plane aborted the landing, and one of the men aboard told 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 [right] wheel."

The caller requested permission to land at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and told the air controller they would try to land on the plane's belly. The plane was at about 3,850 feet when it flew over Fuquay-Varina, where Crooks' body was found, around 2:30pm. The plane landed about 20 minutes later in Raleigh with only one pilot aboard. The plane in question is a CASA C-212 Aviocar, which features a rear loading ramp that can be opened during flight, "making it ideal for parachute training." The plane was tied to Rampart Aviation, which provides parachute training, among other things, for certain US military units. Crooks was a pilot for Rampart.

Crooks' father, Hew Crooks, spoke to WRAL in the wake of his son's death. He described him as passionate about flying. "He pursued his private pilot license while he was in college. I think he got that when he was a sophomore," Hew Crooks said, adding that his son had since worked as a flight instructor and was certified to fly in almost all conditions. "He said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn't trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was. ... I can't imagine what happened. ... I don't know. We can't process it right now." (Read more plane accident stories.)

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