Charles Crooks' dad says he 'can't imagine' what happened after son, 23, 'jumped from plane without parachute' | The Sun

A FATHER has said he “can’t imagine” what happened after his 23-year-old son reportedly jumped from a plane without a parachute.

Charles Crooks had been working toward becoming a professional pilot, said his dad, who called his son a “flying fanatic.”

"I don’t know," Hew Crooks told WRAL. "We can’t process it right now, I don’t know."

According to Hew, Charles had been pursuing his pilot license while in college.

"I think he got that when he was a sophomore, he said a couple weeks ago, he wouldn't trade places with anybody in the world. He loved where he was."

However, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport received a report of a plane making an emergency landing on their runway on Friday.


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The aircraft was a small 10-person place and Charles was the co-pilot, but he was nowhere to be seen when it landed.

His body was found after a neighbor flagged down officers and described hearing "something" in their backyard.

His body was later found after a neighbor flagged down officers and described hearing "something" in their Fuquay-Varina backyard.

Investigators believe Charles had either fallen or jumped out of the plane without a parachute while it was still in the air.

“I can't imagine what happened,” said his father. “We'll figure it out, I suppose.”

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His father added that Charles had worked as a flight instructor for over a year and was certified to fly in any condition.

Investigators are still trying to determine what happened in his final moments.

“We're a strong family and we’re a very loving family. But this, it leaves a hole,” said his father. “I don't know. We can't process it right now.”

The other pilot suffered minor injuries but was able to land the plane safely. 

He was released from a local hospital on Friday evening, officials said. 

The plane landed in the grass after skidding off of the runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Reports indicated that the pilot had an issue with the plane's landing gear, which prompted an emergency landing.

WRAL News obtained audio of the pilot asking traffic control for help.

"Emergency, we’ve lost our right wheel," the pilot was heard saying in the recording.

"We’d like to speak to Raleigh and make an emergency landing at Raleigh."

Officials temporarily closed the airfield at RDU while they worked to secure the scene.

Travelers at the airport reported hearing an announcement saying that departures would not be affected by the incident.

However, the runway where the plane made its landing was expected to remain closed for some time.

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Witness accounts captured a swarm of emergency personnel on the runway as the plane came in for its landing.

"I saw a whole crowd of people looking out the window at the jet bridge, and then saw that propeller plane on the grass beyond the runway and a couple of emergency vehicles," witness Simon Palmore told WRAL.

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