This is the HERO who landed that #SWA plane today. Pilot Tammie Jo Shults was one of the first female fighter pilots in the @USNavy and a native of New Mexican. She really saved a lot of lives today. One woman died from injuries sustained when a window blew-out on the plane. pic.twitter.com/H6m3kBtG3b— Kari Lake Fox 10 (@KariLakeFox10) April 17, 2018
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.
Reminds me of stereotype-busting Sully's cool handling of Hudson landing. Pilots are not all young, not all male, and the best of them can include older and/or female pilots. I am grateful for her skills and that more lives were not lost. #Stereotyping https://t.co/9l0hIknkAy— Mary Ellen Maatman (@MaryEllenMaatma) April 18, 2018
So we have a new Sully: Tammie Jo Shults— Edmund DeMarche (@EDeMarche) April 18, 2018
we've literally made movies lionizing men who land planes in emergency situations so i think it's okay if we let this woman shine for a few days— the librawrian (@thelibrawrian) April 18, 2018
"Everyone clapped and praised the pilot after he set the aircraft down." The pilot is Tammie Jo Shults, one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots and the first woman to fly the F/A-18. Come on.https://t.co/GFiQ5pKvrV— Juliette Kayyem (@juliettekayyem) April 18, 2018
This shouldn't be news, however. This Pilot used all their training and skills to land the plane; SHE just happened to be a woman.— MotherD ?????????? (@bdathill60) April 18, 2018
From @AP about one of the Southwest pilots in today's flight:— Elizabeth Dinh (@ElizabethKPTV) April 18, 2018
"Passengers commended one of the pilots, Tammie Jo Shults, for her cool-headed handling of the emergency. She walked through the aisle and talked with passengers to make sure they were OK after the plane touched down."
It was not all that long ago when most people thought women could not do this. Many believed women could not handle the pressure. Those people were wrong and this woman is a hero. https://t.co/dPj5tdu1SP— Bullets Fan Pablo G (@SkinsFanPG) April 18, 2018
One of the passengers described the landing as smooth. Amazing. https://t.co/y98V8rl9LH— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) April 18, 2018
Mind blowing. What a level-headed and we’ll-trained pilot. Good job on her!— Ilhan Cagri (@icagri) April 17, 2018
Brilliant! And she’s super cool and calm on the com with air traffic. https://t.co/u6rVNluCBd— Ali Nadir (@AliNadir_) April 18, 2018
I hate, hate, HATE to fly. But if I see Capt Shults the next time I step onto a @SouthwestAir flight I’m gonna skip the Xanax. And the bloody Mary. And the fervent, desperate prayer. https://t.co/hLm1BpZeld— Kristen Page-Kirby (@kpagekirby) April 18, 2018
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.
I can’t wait for our daughters to watch the movie about Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults, a fearless trailblazer and national hero.https://t.co/6enh3SI4O1— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) April 17, 2018
Just cast Laura Dern in the movie already, since we know she's more than capable of playing a heroic pilot. https://t.co/qk9251u6Vh— Lareign (@lareignw) April 18, 2018
Passengers praise flight crew of #Southwest1380 and identify pilot on social media as Tammie Jo Shults, who landed plane after engine blew. She’s a native from New Mexico, and was one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots @6abc ??: Kristopher Johnson pic.twitter.com/NbgjfBv0tb— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) April 18, 2018
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