MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Following an emergency landing Friday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and a mid-flight exit from a co-pilot who died, new details have come out about the hours leading up to the landing.
CBS 17 reported that a cargo plane initially carrying two co-pilots made an emergency landing at RDU. Later, Charles Crooks, 23, was found dead in a Fuquay-Varina neighborhood after falling or jumping from the plane.
According to officials, Crooks exited the plane mid-air without a parachute.
The flight initially took off from Raeford at 1:10 p.m., according to flight-tracking software. The co-pilots were flying a CASA C-212 Aviocar made in Spain. The plane was registered to Spore LTD, located in Colorado.
Flight-tracking software shows the plane circled around Raeford before heading towards Raleigh.
Before heading to Raeford, flight-tracking software shows the aircraft took off from the Rocky Mount/Wilson airport at 11:52 a.m. and landed at Raeford West Airport at 12:34 p.m.
According to a recording of the exchange, the co-pilots called air traffic control to inform them that the main right wheel from the plane fell.
One of the co-pilots said they attempted to land at Raeford and they “made a hard landing, decided to go around, and at that point, we lost the wheel.”
While in-flight, one of the co-pilots called Fayetteville Air Traffic Control for help rerouting to RDU.
You can hear one of them say “We’ve lost our right wheel- we’d like to proceed to Raleigh and make a landing.”
During the conversation, you could also hear one of the men from the plane say that they had enough fuel to fly in the air for another four hours before having to land. Someone eventually responded, “Quick question, how do you intend to land at Raleigh-Durham?” The response from one of the men was, “Get as low as we can and I guess we’re going to put it on the belly.”
During a radio call with officials, the pilot of the plane told authorities the co-pilot jumped from the plane without a parachute.
The plane landed on a runway but then lacking one wheel the aircraft spun out and skidded onto grass off the runway.
Multiple first responders headed to the airport after the plane landed. From there, they started a search for the second passenger.
The pilot was taken to the hospital, where officials said he was okay.
Fuquay-Varina police said crews were able to find the missing passenger from that plane in the Sonoma Springs Neighborhood. They later identified the co-pilot as 23-year-old Charles Hew Crooks, who they said exited the plane without a parachute before landing.
RDU officials said Saturday that the aircraft was moved and the runway has reopened. The airport is under normal operations.
Officials said the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will lead the investigation.