CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of the two pilots killed in the crash of a UPS cargo plane Wednesday morning in northern Alabama was from the Charlotte area.
UPS has confirmed that 58-year-old Cerea Beal Jr., of Matthews, and 37-year-old Shanda Fanning, of Lynchburg, Tenn., were piloting the Airbus 300 jet that crashed about 6 a.m. near the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport.
Beal had been with UPS since 1990 and served more than six years in the Marines as a heavy lift helicopter pilot. Fanning had been with UPS since 2006.
Both pilots died in the crash, but there was nobody else aboard the jet and no injuries on the ground.
Family and friends of Beal gathered at his Matthews home Thursday, trying to cope with the news of his tragic death.
“Just a friendly neighbor relationship, and I can’t believe this has happened,” said a neighbor who did not want to be identified.
While he loved to fly, he loved his family even more. His neighbor says he never talked much about the job.
“No, not very much. When he and I related it was about lawns and families, sports. We didn’t talk about work very much,” said his neighbor.
Jarrett Stowe, 17, went to school with Beal’s daughter. He said he will miss him.
"He was a really good guy. You would see him walking his dog occasionally. He'd always be friendly, he wanted to talk,” said Stowe.
Beal is shown on pilot records as being certified as a transport pilot for single-engine and multi-engine aircraft and for helicopters. He also is listed as certified as a flight engineer. It is not clear whether Beal or Fanning was piloting the jet when it crashed on approach to the airport.
UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis issued a statement Wednesday evening, saying, “All of us at UPS extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these two crew members. Our efforts now are primarily focused on helping the families.”
The company said it is providing a variety of support services for the families of the two pilots.
The UPS cargo jet, flight 1354, was bound for Birmingham from Louisville. It went down in an open area a short distance from the airport, although some debris from the crash damaged nearby homes.
Neighbors reported hearing a sputtering sound as the jet approached the airport in the pre-dawn darkness.
National Transportation Safety Board officials say they have not been able to retrieve the cockpit voice and flight data records because the wreckage continued to smolder into Wednesday evening. However, airport officials reported there was no distress call from the UPS plane.