Co-pilot Jumps Without a Parachute, Dies

 - August 18, 2022, 12:05 PM

The NTSB's preliminary report of the July 29 crash of a CASA 212-200 turboprop twin, N497CA, suggests that the second-in-command (SIC) may have taken his own life by jumping out of his airborne airplane without a parachute following a recovery from a hard landing. 

The SIC was the pilot flying and was enroute to pick up a load of skydivers from Raeford West Airport (NR20), North Carolina, when the decision was made to initiate a go-around on approach. However, the call was made too late to arrest the aircraft’s sink rate and it then made a hard impact on the runway, separating the right main landing gear from the aircraft. The pilot subsequently climbed the aircraft to 400 feet agl and made several low passes in order for ground spotters to verify the damage. The SIC then declared an emergency as directed by the pilot-in-command (PIC) and began a diversion to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (KRDU). 

According to the NTSB, enroute to KRDU, the PIC said the SIC became “visibly upset.” The SIC then indicated that he “felt like he was going to be sick and needed some air.” He lowered the rear ramp of the aircraft and then “got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized, and departed the airplane via the aft ramp door” at an altitude of approximately 3,500 feet. The SIC's body was discovered in the backyard of a residential neighborhood in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, after residents reported to police that they had heard a “loud thud.” 

The PIC reported the event to ATC, proceeded on course to KRDU, performed a low approach, and executed an emergency landing. The aircraft departed the right side of the runway and came to rest on some turf, upright. Damage to the aircraft included the right main landing gear, landing gear fittings, and airframe structure.