Captain Tammie Jo Shults, one of the first women fighter pilots in the US Navy, was hailed as an American hero for calmly landing a stricken passenger jet after a midair engine explosion that killed a mother-of-two.
Shults was identified as the pilot by passengers on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which was en route from New York to Dallas when its left engine suddenly blew apart, shrapnel shattering a window and partially sucking one woman out of the plane. An audio recording revealed a calm, unflappable Shults requesting medical assistance and telling air traffic control part of the aircraft was missing as she guided the jet and the 149 people on board into an emergency landing.
“This is a true American Hero,” wrote passenger Diana McBride Self on Facebook, posting a picture of Shults in the aisle of the Boeing 737-700, greeting passengers as they filed out of the plane in Philadelphia. “A huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation. God bless her and all the crew,” she added. “The pilot, Tammy (sic) Jo was so amazing!” wrote passenger Amanda Bourman on Instagram next to a picture of the ruptured engine on the tarmac. “She landed us safely in Philly. God sent his angels to watch over us. I actually heard someone say, there is a God!!”