The small plane took off with a pilot and a co-pilot. Both of them had a valid license. So far, so good. How and why the co-pilot left the twin-engine turbo before it crash landed, without a parachute, is the subject of an intense investigation. After a resident “heard something in their backyard,” police soon located the body. The NTSB is out picking up the breadcrumbs of another mystery.
The plane crash-landed safely
Any plane landing you can walk away from is a good landing. What the pilot was reporting about this particular one is described in pilot speak as a “hard landing.” His co-pilot didn’t walk away because the landing he made in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, wasn’t a good one.
He unfortunately went thud in someone’s bushes. How that happened is anybody’s guess at this point. Names haven’t been released yet.
The victim was described as a man “around 27 years old, wearing tan pants and a shirt with a logo on it.” Wake County Emergency Management chief of operations Darshan Patel related that he was found “near Sunset Lake Road and Hilltop Needmore Road in a Fuquay-Varina neighborhood.”
Rampart Avn CASA 212 (N497CA, built 1983) was damaged in an emergency landing on runway 23L at Raleigh-Durham Intl (KRDU), NC. Pilots reported gear issues after take-off at Raeford West and diverted to RDU. No injuries reported.https://t.co/xeFZsB8jti pic.twitter.com/hLlRqw6vtp
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) July 29, 2022
His officers were out searching the area right after he was reported missing from a plane in flight but it was a while before a resident flagged them down.
Officials report that they “started searching around 2:30 p.m. near West Lake Middle School, but eventually shifted to the residential area in Fuquay-Varina.”
The victim wasn’t located until “around 6:45 p.m., when officials say firefighters helped get the man’s body to a place where it could be safely moved.” The FAA weren’t sure what to tell anybody.
Body of man who jumped from an airplane has been located near Sunset Lake Rd. and Hilltop Needmore Rd. in Fuquay-Varina.
After the person jumped, the twin-engine plane made an emergency landing at RDU when the right landing gear failed to deploy.
— Steve Daniels (@DanielsABC11) July 29, 2022
Pilot had minor injuries
A spokesperson from Raleigh-Durham International Airport relays that all the FAA is saying is that “two people were on board the plane when it took off.” He could add a little bit to that. Only “the pilot was on board when it had its rough landing.”
He was taken to Duke Hospital with minor injuries. Video is making the rounds of the twin-engine turbo skidding off the runway and into the grass. Local police say they “are reviewing the plane’s flight path, radio traffic and working with the FAA to determine what happened.”
The 10-person aircraft is owned by SPORE LTD LLC. They tried to make a landing as planned but “the right wheel of their turboprop plane had fallen off during an attempted landing near a private airport in Raeford sometime around 2 p.m.”
BODY ID'd: One person jumped or fell and died while another person was injured in an incident involving a small charter plane emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport Friday afternoon. https://t.co/Ga86ZUpQFt
— Queen City News (@Queen_City_News) July 30, 2022
According to the injured pilot, “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 wheel.” One of them called it in to air traffic control. “They were requesting an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. But when the plane arrived in Raleigh at 2:50 p.m., only one pilot was in the plane.”
The co-pilot, identified as “Charles Hew Crooks, a 23-year-old pilot and flight instructor” is “thought to have jumped or fallen out mid-flight.” That’s about all anyone really knows. Adding more spice to the mystery, “The men were flying a CASA C-212 Aviocar, a twin-engine cargo plane made in Spain. The plane has a loading ramp at the rear that can be opened in flight, making it ideal for parachute training.”
Not only that, “the aircraft was registered to Spore LTD, a company managed by Rampart Aviation, which offers pilot and aircraft training commercially and for the Department of Defense.” Rampart, in turn, “has contracts with the military to provide parachute training, tests and evaluation activities for U.S. Army airborne units and U.S. special operations forces.“