The hero commercial pilot who safely landed a Boeing 737 full of passengers after shrapnel from an engine explosion breached the cabin was an ace Navy pilot and one of the first women to take the yoke of an F/A-18 fighter jet, according to reports.
Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults, 56, kept cool Tuesday as she brought Flight 1380 down for an emergency landing in Philadelphia when an engine exploded mid-air, according to passengers’ social media.
“A huge thank you to the Southwest Crew & Pilot Tammie Jo Shults for their knowledge and bravery under these circumstances. God bless each one of them,” passenger Diana McBride Self wrote on Facebook Tuesday.
“The pilot, Tammy Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly,” wrote Instagram user Amanda Bourman.
After graduating from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas in 1983, Shults signed up with the Navy and became one of its first female fighter pilots, according to a Facebook post by the school’s alumni association.
“She landed her fighter plane on boats at 150 miles per hour and eventually became an instructor,” an article about her posted to a pilots’ forum reads, noting she was among the first to pilot a supersonic F/A-18.
Shults, who lives in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is married to pilot Dean Marcus Shults and has two children, Sydney and Marshall, according to Heavy.com.
The plane was en route to Texas from La Guardia Airport when its left engine exploded around 11:20 a.m.