The North Carolina pilot who died after falling out of a plane actually jumped out of the aircraft, according to a recording of a 911 call his co-pilot made after the incident.
Charles Hew Crooks, 23, was flying a 10-person aircraft with only one other co-pilot on board when he fell to his death on July 29. It was initially unclear whether he fell out of the plane or jumped of his own accord. A recording of a 911 call from air traffic controllers indicates the man jumped, however.
Controllers made the call to police shortly after speaking with the remaining co-pilot. They indicated that the co-pilot had told them the Crooks had jumped out of the damaged plane, leaving the co-pilot to conduct an emergency landing.
“We have a pilot that was inbound to the field,” a controller said on the call, according to WNCN. “His co-pilot jumped out of the aircraft. He made impact to the ground and here are the coordinates.
Authorities say the plane suffered damage to its fuselage and its landing germ at some point prior to the emergency landing.
Police are still investigating the incident and have not made a final determination on whether Crooks jumped.
Crooks did not have a parachute, and his body was found after a family reported it landing a stone’s throw from their house.
The man’s father says Crooks had been working as a flight instructor for roughly a year, according to WRAL. He was at a loss for how his son might have jumped.
“He said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn’t trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was,” he told the station, adding: “I can’t imagine what happened.”