With 149 people on board a plummeting plane and an engine exploding mid-flight, a pilot and former fighter pilot remained calm and handled the situation like a champ.
"Southwest 1380, we’re single engine. We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit. We've got injured passengers" she said in a calm tone, before requesting medical personnel meet her on the runway once she landed in Philadelphia.
The accident happened on Tuesday, and ended in one death. But, a lot of people insist that had it not been for Pilot Tammie Jo Shults, there might have been a ton of additional fatalities. The engine exploded and blasted sharp pieces into the plane. One of these pieces forced a window out of the aircraft and one woman, Jennifer Riordan, was being sucked out. Passengers attempted to save the woman, pulling her back into the plane, but she eventually died from the tragic incident.
Shults avoided additional death and disaster and made an emergency landing at the Philadelphia International Airport. One passenger said that she had "nerves of steel" while another gave thanks to the pilot for "guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation" and speaking to each of the passengers, one by one after landing.
People are shining a spotlight on Shults, as she managed to remain calm, cool, and collected during the situation:
Things could have been a lot worse had she not successfully made an emergency landing, and remained calm and centered.
The engine exploded in midair and a woman was being sucked out of the cabin. Pilot Tammie Jo Shults, 1 of the Navy's 1st female fighter pilots & 1st to fly an F/A-18, kept her cool, safely landing a Boeing 737 #Southwest jetliner full of passengers https://t.co/ux0DVjfOXj pic.twitter.com/BspunP6f36— David Beard (@dabeard) April 18, 2018
Passengers and their families praised the pilot for ensuring a safe landing as soon as possible:
“She has nerves of steel,” one passenger, Alfred Tumlinson, told the AP. “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.” https://t.co/xrqiIaKHft— David Beard (@dabeard) April 18, 2018
Twitter is applauding and calling her a hero:
Southwest did not release the name of the pilot along with the news, but passengers along with her family members confirmed it was Shults.
A real hero. Prevented a tragedy from becoming a catastrophe for the entire pax and crew.— James Garth (@jgarth22) April 18, 2018
Mind blowing. What a level-headed and we’ll-trained pilot. Good job on her!— Ilhan Cagri (@icagri) April 17, 2018
Some claim that she is only receiving attention because she is a woman.
But, others are praising the pilot and calling her a hero for her actions – and gender has nothing to do with it:
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
Then again, no one should be surprised that she handled the accident as well as she did. Shults is a trained fighter pilot!
She was amongst the first female fighter pilots for the United States Navy. On top of that, she was also one of the first woman to ever fly an F/A-18 Hornet. Before becoming a part of the U.S. Navy, Shults applied for the Air Force. She was denied because she was a woman, and once she asked about applying to be an aviation officer candidate, she was told that she could, but "there did not seem to be a demand for women pilots."
Shults broke through several barriers to become the accredited, skilled pilot that she is now. With those breakthroughs came a lot of training, especially on predicaments she might face as a fighter pilot – and she no doubt used those trainings in this dire situation.
"Shults applied for the Air Force after she graduated. She wasn’t allowed to test to become a pilot, but the Navy welcomed her. She was one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy’s history, and the first woman to fly F-18s. She later became an instructor." https://t.co/IcmoBYL2II— Oriana Pawlyk (@Oriana0214) April 17, 2018
Glass ceiling-shattering, well-trained fighter pilot, and total badass? Pretty much:
And even later she became a hero and a badass. What an amazing pilot and human.— Keane Bradford (@KeaneBeane) April 18, 2018
Tammie Joe Shults is a name that won't soon be forgotten:
Saving as many lives as possible, and acting as a leading, brave, and intelligent example for all pilots. You go, Tammie! Superwoman, who?
This is tremendous! Let there be no mistake that pilot Tammie Jo Shults was at the right place at the right time to commandeer the Southwest plane & it's passengers to safety. She is a national treasure.— Sher (@doTERRASher) April 18, 2018
Prayers go out to Jennifer Riordan, her family, and those affected.