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A pilot who died in a mid-flight emergency was visibly upset, authorities say

During an emergency mid-flight, the pilot appeared "visibly upset" and went to his co-pilot for air, federal officials said Tuesday.

According to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board into the July 29 incident, Charles Hew Crooks, 23, who was second-in-command on the CASA CN-212 Aviocar, then removed his headset, got out of his seat, apologized to the senior pilot, and left the plane via the aft ramp door.

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Crooks did not seem to reach for a six-foot-high bar before falling, the pilot told investigators, according to the report. The parachutist was not wearing a parachute at the time of the accident.

The report states Crooks declared an emergency at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and coordinated with air traffic controllers.

It was reportedly a skydiving flight whose landing gear struck a runway after the plane "dropped."

Crooks stopped communicating with air traffic controllers after about 20 minutes because he became "visibly upset" about the hard landing.

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According to the report, Crooks may have felt sick after opening the side window in the cockpit at around the same time. A search for Crooks was conducted by the commanding pilot after he fell from the plane, according to the report.

In the afternoon, Crooks landed the plane near the Raleigh airport in a grassy area. Approximately five hours after the noise was heard in Crooks' backyard, the body was found in Fuquay-Varina, southwest of Raleigh.

A Raleigh, North Carolina, NBC affiliate reported that Crooks' father told WRAL his son was a certified flight instructor who had taken years to become a pilot.

As part of his college studies, he pursued his private pilot permit. Crooks told the station he received that when he was a sophomore. The other day, he said he would not trade places with anyone. The place he was in was perfect for him."

The events he witnessed were beyond my comprehension, he said. I guess the two of us will figure it out, I guess.”