Pilot upset before exiting plane mid-flight in North Carolina: NTSB

A pilot who died after exiting a plane that later made an emergency landing in North Carolina last month appeared “visibly upset” and told his co-pilot that he felt sick and needed air, federal officials said.

Charles Hew Crooks, 23, second-in-command on the CASA CN-212 Aviocar, then got up from his seat, removed his headset, and apologized to the pilot before “departing the aircraft” via the aft ramp door, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The other pilot, who the NTSB did not identify, told investigators Crooks did not appear to reach for a bar some six feet above the ramp before he fell out of the twin-engine plane on July 29, officials wrote in the three page report.

Crooks, who was not wearing a parachute, fell about 3,500 feet, officials said. His body was found roughly 30 miles away from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where the plane landed after the mid-flight emergency.

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