Southwest Pilot Hailed As A Hero After Terrifying Engine Explosion

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The pilot who landed the Southwest plane safely after an engine explosion is now being hailed as a real American hero. And she deserves it.

The breathtaking landing of the Southwest 1380 flight after the plane lost one of its engines was no easy task. But the pilot who managed to get it done is being hailed as a hero — and rightly so.

Tammie Jo Shults left both her passengers and the world in awe at how she managed to bring a heavily damaged plane down safely without losing her cool in the process. The calm and contained hero may have just gone through one of the most horrifying moments of her life, and yet she managed to go through the entire ordeal with poise and grace.

After one of the engines exploded, Shults, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot who was one of the first in history to pilot F18 jets, contacted air traffic control and calmly let them know what had happened and that the damage had caused a passenger to nearly fly out of the plane through a broken window.

“We have part of the aircraft missing so we’re going to need to slow down a bit,” she told air traffic control.

After passenger Jennifer Riordan, the one person inside the plane who was fatally injured after shrapnel hit the window she was sitting next to, was sucked out of the window, fellow passengers were able to pull her back inside. Still, she suffered cardiac arrest and was later pronounced dead.

Thankfully, the other 148 people on that plane were able to survive the stressful ordeal after Shults managed to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

According to a statement from Southwest Airlines, Shults truly deserves to be called a hero.

“We couldn’t be more proud of [her and the crew’s] actions,” the statement read.

Passenger Alfred Tumlinson agreed, saying, “She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her. 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.”

Passenger Amanda Bourman added that she did what she could when the engine exploded: pray for the pilot.

“The plane started going back and forth as the pilot was trying to gain control of the plane again. I put my mask on and my husband and I right away grabbed on to each other and started praying,” she said.

“We asked God to be with the pilot to land us safely,” she added, “and to send angels to watch over us.”

Shults’ husband, who’s also a Southwest pilot, said his wife is the best pilot around, her brother-in-law Gary Shults told reporters.

“She’s a formidable woman, as sharp as a tack,” he said. “My brother says she’s the best pilot he knows. She’s a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people.”

On Twitter, users shared articles on Shults celebrating her unique story and collected demeanor throughout the life-changing experience. After all, she once tried applying for the U.S. Air Force but was rejected, finding a home for her incredible skills in the Navy instead.

Others used her as an example of how women are capable of anything.

Some users were personally grateful for her heroism, thanking her for saving family members. Others were already hoping for a Hollywood blockbuster about this flight.

Whatever happens next to immortalize Shults, this act of bravery is already marked in our memories forever. We’re sure she will serve as a great example to all the girls out there dreaming of being pilots someday.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Reuters

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