Tammie Jo Shults is no stranger to high-stress situations that require nerves of steel. As one of the first female fighter pilots in the US military, she knew how to keep her cool when the worst began to happen.
Shults was the pilot of Southwest flight #1380, which suffered a catastrophic engine failure less than an hour into its flight from New York to Dallas.
Passengers are praising Shults’ ability to stay calm under pressure and fly the aircraft with one engine to safety, saving the lives of nearly everyone aboard the aircraft.
One passenger, Jennifer Riordan, was killed after being struck with debris from the exploding engine and nearly getting sucked from the aircraft.
“The pilot Tammy Jo was so amazing!” said passenger Amanda Bourman, “She landed us safely in Philly.”
“She is a true American Hero,” said another passenger, Diana McBride Self.
“She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her,” said passenger Alfred Tumlinson. “I’m going to send her a Christmas card, I’m going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.
“The lady, the crew, everything, everybody was immaculate,” he continued. “They were so professional in what they did to get us on the ground.”
Listen to ATC radio communication of Shults landing the stricken aircraft in Philadelphia in the video below.
Shults joined the Navy in 1985 and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander before leaving the Navy Reserve in 2001. She served in the VAQ-34 Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron in Point Mugu, California and was an instructor pilot for the F/A-18 Hornet and EA-6B Prowler.
Even though she was barred by regulations to fly in a combat squadron, she was one of the first female pilots to fly the F/A-18 Hornet fighter in a support role.
She married fellow Navy pilot Dean Shults and the husband and wife fly for Southwest. “She’s a formidable woman, as sharp as a tack,” said her brother-in-law, Gary Shults. “My brother says she’s the best pilot he’s ever known.”
“She’s a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people,” he continued.
Shults is a devout Christian and says that sitting in the captain’s seat gives her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”
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