Odd.

EXCLUSIVE: REVEALED: Plane pilot ‘jumped’ to his death from was contracted to special forces parachutists – and firm that operated it is being sued by another pilot who claims he was bullied

Rampart Aviation, which boasts of its Department of Defense contracts, has remained silent over the death of Charles Crooks, 23, who died falling 3,500ft from a plane in North Carolina on July 29.

The company is also in the midst of a bitter lawsuit with a former pilot who claims that he was blocked for a promotion and training by those in charge of Rampart. 

https://mol.im/a/11137883

  • Charles Hew Crooks, 23, died after jumping from a small passenger plane  after it was diverted to Raleigh-Durham International for an emergency landing 
  • The plane, a 1983 CASA C-212 Aviocar, had previously damaged its landing gear during a failed runway approach at another airport 
  • The co-pilot opened his side cockpit window at 3,500ft and ‘may have gotten sick,’ a National Transportation Safety Board report  said
  • Rampart Aviation has been described as a ‘very secretive’ company by an ex-pilot
  • They claim that the firm is ‘concerned’ that it would lose its Department of Defense contracts 
  • Another ex-pilot has also lodged a lawsuit against the company, claiming that they ‘bullied and gaslight’ him by offering him a promotion
  • Eric Sanchez’s suit states that he was offered a rise up the ranks to captain before he had to take part in military duty

An airline company has been accused of being ‘very secretive’ after the death of a co-pilot who jumped to his death in a horror accident.

Rampart Aviation, which boats of its Department of Defense contracts, has remained silent over the death of Charles Crooks, 23, who died falling 3,500ft from a plane in North Carolina on July 29.

The company is also in the midst of a bitter lawsuit with a former pilot who claims that he was blocked for a promotion and training by those in charge of Rampart.

In July, second in command Crooks jumped to his death after becoming ‘visibly upset’ minutes when the plane diverted to Raleigh-Durham International for an emergency landing.

The plane had lost a wheel in a botched landing attempt, and as it went in to make a hard landing at a different airport, Crooks jumped out. 

Crooks did not have a parachute, and his body was found in a backyard in the town of Fuquay-Varina.

His father said flying was his son’s ‘lifelong dream’ and that he was a former flight instructor who was certified to fly in all types of conditions.

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) revealed that he ‘got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized and departed the airplane via the aft ramp door’.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Federal Aviation Authority and the NTSB, who are probing what caused the plane to lose a wheel initially.

One ex-pilot, who wished to remain anonymous, told DailyMail.com that Rampart has always had a ‘high turnover of staff.’

Rampart Aviation had a second crash investigated in 2015 after a propeller issue caused it to nose dive at the same airport as the crash landing in July. The incident, pictured, saw co-pilot Tim Baldwin suffer 'serious injuries' to his legs
Eric Schwartz, pictured, has launched a bitter lawsuit with a former pilot who claims that he was blocked for a promotion and training by those in charge of Rampart. Court document seen by DailyMail.com claim that Schwartz, a US Navy reservist, completed the necessary requirements for the promotion and used his own money to travel to complete a course
Eric Schwartz, pictured, has launched a bitter lawsuit with a former pilot who claims that he was blocked for a promotion and training by those in charge of Rampart. Court document seen by DailyMail.com claim that Schwartz, a US Navy reservist, completed the necessary requirements for the promotion and used his own money to travel to complete a course
Charles Crooks, 23, died falling 3,500ft from a Rampart Aviation plane in North Carolina on July 29. A former pilot claims that they were out that day practicing runs for 'military freefall jumpers' as the company has a Department of Defense contract
Charles Crooks, 23, died falling 3,500ft from a Rampart Aviation plane in North Carolina on July 29. A former pilot claims that they were out that day practicing runs for ‘military freefall jumpers’ as the company has a Department of Defense contract

They said: ‘The company generally is very secretive, they probably won’t say anything because they don’t want to have an investigation because all of their contracts are government contracts.

‘They won’t want all their planes to be grounded. The DOD will be all over this as the plane was flying on a DOD contract.

‘It’s for military freefall jumpers, near Fort Bragg, that is what the contract of that plane is for.

‘I’ve been doing this for more than 35 years, and I have seen some really bizarre things. This is one of the strangest ones that I have ever seen.

‘The first officer was relatively inexperienced from what I can tell, and Rampart has a number of inexperienced pilots flying for them.

‘How you lose someone out the back end of an airplane is quite mystifying. All sorts wrongful death lawsuits are going to come out of this for sure, there is probably a lot of lawyers already lined up on it.’

Fort Bragg is the home of US Army special forces.  

Crooks’ death also comes amid Rampart being embroiled in a bitter lawsuit against a former pilot who claims they breached his military rights by sacking him after they refused to promote him.

A NTSB investigation into the crash in 2015 found that the right propeller had been overhauled and reinstalled on the plane two days before the accident. A report into the crash could not determine if the propeller was inadequately installed or rigged, which could have caused the issue, and there was no solid conclusion for what sparked the nosedive
A NTSB investigation into the crash in 2015 found that the right propeller had been overhauled and reinstalled on the plane two days before the accident. A report into the crash could not determine if the propeller was inadequately installed or rigged, which could have caused the issue, and there was no solid conclusion for what sparked the nosedive

Pilot fell or jumped from 3,500-feet as plane went in to crash land

Second in command Crooks reportedly jumped to his death after becoming ¿visibly upset¿ minutes after the plane diverted to Raleigh-Durham International for an emergency landing
Second in command Crooks reportedly jumped to his death after becoming ‘visibly upset’ minutes after the plane diverted to Raleigh-Durham International for an emergency landing

Eric Schwartz started working for Rampart in June 2019 as a second in command pilot and claims that he was promised a promotion to captain during his time there.

Court document seen by DailyMail.com claim that Schwartz, a US Navy reservist, completed the necessary requirements for the promotion and used his own money to travel to complete a course.

He claims that Michael Oppedal, the Assistant Chief Pilot for the company, agreed to promote him once he had completed the course, and he would be given an increase in salary.

Schwartz was required to undergo military orders for a month in 2020 and claims that when he came back and asked for an update on his promotion he was told it was no longer available to him.

In a phone call with Oppedal, he was told that his military mobilization was the reason for the offer being rescinded.

He has since filed the lawsuit claiming that he was unduly penalized because of his military obligation, which breaches the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).

After approaching the issue with Rampart he asked for a meeting, and was then immediately grounded from flying and then placed on administrated leave for ‘safety’ reasons.

Schwartz¿s lawyer claim that Rampart attempted to ¿bully, intimidate, gaslight and threaten¿ him before he was fired.  The lawsuit also comes six years after the company had another co-pilot suffer serious injuries to his legs after a crash at the same airport in September 2015. Pictured: Rampart plane which crashed in 2015 near Louisburg, North Carolina
Schwartz’s lawyer claim that Rampart attempted to ‘bully, intimidate, gaslight and threaten’ him before he was fired.  The lawsuit also comes six years after the company had another co-pilot suffer serious injuries to his legs after a crash at the same airport in September 2015. Pictured: Rampart plane which crashed in 2015 near Louisburg, North Carolina
Crooks, pictured with his family, did not have a parachute, and his body was found in a backyard in the town of Fuquay-Varina. His father said flying was his son's 'lifelong dream' and that he was a former flight instructor who was certified to fly in all types of conditions
Crooks, pictured with his family, did not have a parachute, and his body was found in a backyard in the town of Fuquay-Varina. His father said flying was his son’s ‘lifelong dream’ and that he was a former flight instructor who was certified to fly in all types of conditions

911 call reveals pilot died after exiting plane mid-flight

Court documents also show that Rampart requires staff to be able to deal with ‘profanity and brash conduct’ because they deal with ‘retired and active military personnel’ who may use ‘rough, hewn and brash’ language.

The company also allegedly sent an email to Shwartz saying he had exhibited ‘insubordinate and delusional behaviour’ and was grounded while they investigated his ‘fitness for duty.’

Schwartz’s lawyer claim that Rampart attempted to ‘bully, intimidate, gaslight and threaten’ him before he was fired.

The company then terminated his employment after ruling that he is a ‘safety risk in his pilot position.’

The lawsuit also comes six years after the company had another co-pilot suffer serious injuries to his legs after a crash at the same airport in September 2015.

Tim Baldwin, 51, suffered serious injuries to his lower legs after the plane veered off into the trees after an issue with the propeller.

The pilot, Michael Vargo, suffered minor injuries as a result of the crash, while passenger John Schroeder came away unscathed.

In a report from the NTSB, Crooks 'got up from his seat, removed his headset, apologized and departed the airplane via the aft ramp door.' Pictured: The aircraft that made an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on July 29
The small cargo plane, a 1983 CASA C-212 Aviocar, was forced to make an emergency landing at Raleigh-Durham International Airport after losing its right wheel during a previous landing attempt. The plane's co-pilot on board jumped from the aircraft after feeling 'upset' about the unsuccessful landing attempt

A NTSB investigation found that the right propeller had been overhauled and reinstalled on the plane two days before the accident.

It functioned normally when tested by the federal agency, but it was found to have improperly configured speed settings.

A report into the crash could not determine if the propeller was inadequately installed or rigged, which could have caused the issue, and there was no solid conclusion for what sparked the nosedive.

The ex-pilot added: ‘This is the second incident that I know of that has caused serious injuries.

‘The co-pilot in the crash was seriously injured and the NTSB found that the plane had a number of maintenance discrepancies on it that may have caused the crash.

‘I don’t know if it is the same team as it was then. And a lot of this is speculative but they do go through staff very quickly.’

DailyMail.com were unable to contact Rampart Aviation, and a lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.