Last week, tragedy struck a Southwest Airlines plane after one of the engines failed and pilots had to make an emergency landing. A window was broken, and Jennifer Riordan died from injuries after being partially pulled out of the plane. This whole event is so unimaginably horrible.
Further tragedy was prevented by the quick thinking and steel nerves of Pilot Tammie Jo Shults.
Tammie graduated in 1983 from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas where she earned a degree in biology and agribusiness. She was commissioned in the Navy in 1985 after the Air Force denied her the chance to become a pilot. THEIR LOSS. According to an alumni group, Tammie was among the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. military. She was the first woman to fly an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet. That is so badass. Of her time in the military, her classmate Cindy Foster said, “She knew she had to work harder than everyone else. She did it for herself and all women fighting for a chance. … I’m extremely proud of her. She saved a lot of lives.”
Tammie eventually transition into the role of instructor pilot and remained on active duty until 1993. She was in the Naval Reserve until her retirement in 2001.
Last Tuesday, Tammie was at the helm of a Southwest Airlines twin-engine Boeing 737 when one of the engines blew. There were 149 people on board, and shrapnel smashed a window which caused Jennifer Riordan to be partially pulled out of the plane. Tammie guided the plane down during a rapid descent and successfully executed a smooth emergency landing in Philadelphia.
She has been commended for her calmness as she communicated with traffic control and her ability to keep the plane steady throughout the descent. Passenger Diana McBride Self wrote, “Her grace and knowledge under pressure were remarkable. She came through the plane personally to check on us after she landed our crippled airplane. … We were truly all in amazing hands.” Tammie is a hero who saved a lot of lives in a truly harrowing situation. They are all lucky to have been aboard her plane that day. Way to go, Tammie!
“Tammie Jo Shults, who landed crippled Southwest plane, was one of first female fighter pilots in U.S. Navy”
“Who is Tammie Jo Shults? Hero pilot of Southwest flight with blown engine was Navy fighter.”
“‘Nerves of steel’: She calmly landed the Southwest flight, just as you’d expect of a former fighter pilot”
“Inside Southwest Flight 1380, 20 Minutes of Chaos and Terror“