‘Nerves of steel’: Meet The Pilot Who Landed The Southwest Airlines Flight

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The situation aboard Southwest Flight 1380 looked desperate. One of the engines exploded shortly after takeoff, shattering a passenger window and causing the plane struggle to stay in the air. Air maks dropped from the ceiling as the pressurized air was sucked out of the open window. Chaos reigned everywhere except the pilot’s seat, where former Navy pilot Tammie Jo Shults sat cool, calm and collected. She is a hero worth talking about.

As Shults guided the plane safely into Philadelphia, saving 148 people. Once the plane landed, she walked back into the cabin to speak to each of the survivors. Sadly, the flight was not casualty-free.  Jennifer Riordan, 43, of Albuquerque, New Mexico who was partially sucked out of the plane shortly after the explosion died shortly after landing. It was the first fatality in Southwest’s 51-year history.

Shults’ actions were no fluke. She was one of the first female tactical pilots in the United States Armed Forces and the first to fly the F/A-18, a carrier-capable combat jet. She retired as a lieutenant commander with two Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals and a National Defense Service Medal. She was also a pistol marksman.

“To get us down with no hydraulics and a blown engine and land us safely is nothing short of miraculous to me. She’s a hero, for sure.” . Southwest Airlines passenger Peggy Phillips recalls the moments when the engine blew on Tuesday on Dallas-bound flight 1380. She credits her survival to the pilot, Tammie Jo Shults. But Shults, who cooly steered the plane into a rapid descent towards safety after the chaos broke out, has gone against the odds before. . A 1983 graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas, Shults received her degree in biology and agribusiness. She then went on to become one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. military, amid adversity because of her gender. Despite these obstacles, she was the first woman to fly an F/A-18 Hornet for the Navy, and she trained military pilots before she was a pilot for Southwest Airlines. . One passenger was killed on the flight and seven others suffered minor injuries, but many say the toll would have been much higher had it not been for Shults’ quick thinking during the emergency landing in Philadelphia. “She’s just an excellent role model for women certainly in the workplace, and just people in general,” MidAmerica Nazarene’s director of alumni relations Kevin Garber said. . 📷: Linda Maloney . . . . #TammieJoShults #hero #pilot #flight #emergencylanding #woman

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“We all feel we were simply doing our jobs,” Shults and Ellisor said in a statement posted on the airline’s social media pages. “Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss.

 

Dusty Sullivan
A southern fella whose roots are in The Natural State and heart is in the outdoors

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