Timeline of plane incident: A mysterious mid-flight exit before Raleigh crash landing

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On the afternoon of Friday, July 29, a small plane carrying two licensed pilots took off from a private airport in Raeford, N.C., and crash-landed in Raleigh about 90 minutes later, with only one pilot onboard.

Here’s what we know about the timeline of events that afternoon, based on previous reporting from The News & Observer.

Friday, July 29

1:10 p.m. According to FlightAware.com, a small plane — a CASA C-212 Aviocar with Tail No. N497CA — departed from Raeford in Hoke County at 1:10 p.m. The plane was registered to Spore LTD LLC from Colorado Springs, a company managed by Rampart Aviation.

1:30 p.m.: The plane began circling Raeford West Airport and experienced a “hard landing,” but the landing was aborted. A spokesperson for the privately owned airport said the plane did not use their runway, but rather a dirt military runway nearby. Sometime shortly after that aborted landing, the plane — using the call sign Shady 02 — called Fayetteville Air Traffic Control for help rerouting to RDU.

1:50-2 p.m.: The pilots contacted air traffic control at Raleigh-Durham International Airport requesting an emergency landing. They reported that the right wheel of their turboprop plane had fallen off during an attempted landing near a private airport in Raeford.

2:30 p.m.: Around 2:30 or 2:45 Friday afternoon, authorities received reports that a man had exited a small plane mid-flight. A map of the plane’s flight path from ADS-B Exchange, a flight-tracking service, suggests the plane was at about 3,850 feet during this time, and that it crossed over Hilltop Needmore Road in Fuquay-Varina at about 2:30.

2:49 p.m.: Shortly before 3 p.m., the plane approached RDU and landed on Runway 5R-23L. It veered into the grass, according to the airport. The pilot, the only passenger on the plane when it reached the ground, was taken to a Duke University hospital with minor injuries.

5 p.m.: By 5 p.m., EMS, police and fire departments were searching a large swath of Wake County for a second person who may have “exited the plane while it was in air,” said Carolyn Roman with the Town of Cary. The search would eventually involve federal authorities.

Emergency personnel stage a search Friday, July 29, 2022 in Fuquay-Varina, NC after a twin-engine turboprop aircraft made an emergency landing at RDU International Airport after reported landing gear issues. Another pilot reportedly jumped out of the plane before the landing attempt.
Emergency personnel stage a search Friday, July 29, 2022 in Fuquay-Varina, NC after a twin-engine turboprop aircraft made an emergency landing at RDU International Airport after reported landing gear issues. Another pilot reportedly jumped out of the plane before the landing attempt.

7 p.m.: The missing co-pilot was found dead behind a house near Sunset Lake and Hilltop Needmore roads in Fuquay-Varina.

11 p.m.: The Fuquay-Varina police department held a news conference to announce the identity of the recovered co-pilot: Charles Hew Crooks of Raleigh. FVPD says the father of the co-pilot, located in Fairfield, Connecticut, had been notified.