FAA Workers' 911 Call Sheds Light on 'Midair Mystery'

Employees tell dispatcher that pilot said co-pilot Charles Hew Crooks jumped out of plane
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2022 7:37 AM CDT

More details are filtering in on what's been deemed a "midair mystery" involving a co-pilot who exited his turboprop plane midflight and fell to his death. The timeline has since been pieced together regarding what happened to Charles Hew Crooks in the skies over North Carolina on Friday as his plane made an emergency landing, and now WRAL reports that the pilot of the plane told two Federal Aviation Administration workers in the air traffic control tower at Raleigh-Durham International Airport that Crooks jumped out of the plane before it landed. "We have a pilot who was inbound to the field. His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft," one of the FAA workers says in a 13-minute recording to 911 dispatchers, which WNCN reports came in at 2:34pm on Friday. "He made impact to the ground and here are the coordinates."

The employees also indicated that Crooks leaped out of the plane without a harness or parachute. "I am sure the pilot is going to be shaken up," one of the workers says in the recording, adding: "He literally just said, 'My pilot just jumped out.'" One of the workers then notes: "This is the craziest thing ever." Crooks' body was recovered later Friday in a backyard in Fuquay-Varina. WNCN notes that, despite the release of the 911 call, investigators still haven't determined that Crooks purposely jumped out of the plane.

Meanwhile, in the Sonoma Springs neighborhood of Fuquay-Varina, the homeowner who heard the sound of a tree branch break as Crooks fell into the woods behind her home is having a hard time getting past the accident. "I can't look at that tree," Emily Osborn tells the News & Observer. "I can't go in my backyard." Crooks' brother sent a message to the paper asking to "avoid speculation on his final moments, which are so much less important than the nearly 24 years of joy and wonder that he brought to everyone he met." The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the accident. (More plane accident stories.)

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