A pilot who fell to his death last month from a plane over North Carolina appeared "visibly upset" and told his copilot that he felt sick and needed air after a midflight mishap, according to a recently released federal report.
The pilot, Charles Hew Crooks, was second-in-command of the twin-engine plane when he removed his headset, left his seat and apologized to the senior pilot before "exiting" via the plane's aft ramp door, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the July 29 incident that was released Tuesday.
The copilot, who has not been identified, told investigators that Crooks, 23, did not appear to reach for a bar that was roughly six feet above the ramp before he fell, the report says.
Crooks was not wearing a parachute at the time.
Earlier, the pilots had been ferrying skydivers when their plane "dropped" and its landing gear struck a runway, according to the report, wich was reviewed by NBC News.
Crooks was reportedly flying the craft when the hard landing occurred.
Crooks declared an emergency and coordinated with air traffic controllers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, according to the report.
About 20 minutes later, Crooks became "visibly upset" about the landing and stopped communicating with air traffic controllers, the report states.