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Pilot 'may have gotten sick' before jumping out of plane without parachute before RDU emergency landing: NTSB

Tuesday, the NTSB released a preliminary incident report on the July 29 emergency landing.
Credit: shime - stock.adobe.com
The group of parachuters had just jumped out of a plane.

RALEIGH, N.C. — National Transportation Safety Board said a pilot whose body was found following a small plane emergency landing may have gotten sick before jumping out of the plane.

Tuesday, the NTSB released a preliminary incident report on the July 29 emergency landing.

A small plane made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after losing its main wheel. 

Officials said they found the body of the pilot, Charles Hew Crooks. 911 calls from the crash revealed Crooks may have jumped from the plane.

Transportation officials said it all happened around 2 p.m. on July 29.

The NTSB report states another pilot, who was in command of the flight, said the plane flew two skydiving runs, then went back to Raeford West Airport to pick up a third group of skydivers. 

The report states Crooks was flying into Raeford when the plane went below the tree line and "dropped." Crooks tried to maneuver the plane, but before he could stop the sink rate and gain altitude, the right main landing gear hit the surface of the runway. 

The pilot-in-charge then instructed Crooks to declare an emergency and request a diversion flight to RDU. The pilot-in-charge flew the plane while Crooks communicated with air traffic control. 

The pilot-in-charge said there was moderate turbulence during the flight, and that about 20 minutes in, Crooks "became visibly upset about the hard landing." 

The NTSB report states Crooks opened the cockpit window because he "may have gotten sick" and felt like he needed air, so he lowered the ramp in the back of the airplane. Crooks removed his headset, apologized, and jumped out of the airplane through the aft ramp door. 

The pilot-in-charge then told air traffic control that Crooks exited the plane without a parachute. 

The plane made an emergency landing at RDU, and Crooks' body was later found. 

The pilot-in-charge was not injured, and the second-in-command sustained deadly injuries, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

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