RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary incident report regarding the emergency plane landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport that left one person dead July 29.
In late July, a small aircraft made an emergency landing at RDU after losing its main wheel.
Officials later found the body of Charles Hew Crooks and released 911 calls revealing that he may have jumped from the aircraft.
New details were also revealed about the flight in Raeford. The pilot-in-command — whose name has not been released — said that the plane flew two skydiving runs, then descended to the Raeford West Airport to pick up a third group of skydivers.
According to the report, Crooks was flying into Raeford when the plane descended below the tree line and “dropped”. Crooks attempted to maneuver the plane. However, before Crooks could stop the sink rate and initiate a climb, the right main landing gear hit the surface of the runway.
The PIC then instructed Crooks to declare an emergency and request a diversion to RDU. While flying to RDU, the PIC flew the plane and Crooks communicated with air traffic control.
The PIC said their was some turbulence during the flight. After conducting an approach and emergency briefings, Crooks became visibly upset about the hard landing, the report said.
In his final transmission to air traffic control, Crooks acknowledged the path the plane was heading.
The newly released NTSB report said the second-in-command, Crooks, opened the cockpit window because he “may have gotten sick” and felt like he needed air, then lowered the ramp in the back of the airplane.
The report said Crooks got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized and departed the airplane via the aft ramp door.
The PIC said that there was a bar that someone could grab about six feet up from the ramp. He did not see Crooks grabbing the bar before exiting the airplane, the report noted.
About a minute-and-a-half after Crooks told air traffic control where the plane was heading, the PIC told air traffic control that Crooks exited the plane without a parachute.
The plane then made an emergency landing at RDU and was retained for further examination.
CBS 17 went over the report with former NTSB chairman and CBS News Aviation Safety Analyst Robert Sumwalt.
“I’ve never seen or heard of anything quite like this before,” Sumwalt said.
Sumwalt said it’s important not to make premature judgements and that the NTSB will conduct detailed interviews with anyone who interacted with Crooks before he lost his life.
“They will want to know what was the pilot’s mental state, as well as they can, what was that pilot’s mental state going into the days and hours prior to his departing the airplane,” Sumwalt said.
Sumwalt said the report is focusing on the landing gear issues as the primary accident, with the location on the report listed as Raeford.
An NTSB spokesperson said the final report will be released in about 12-24 months.