What You Need To Know About Tammie Jo Shults, the Southwest Pilot Who Became a Hero


While you may not recognize Tammie Jo Shults’ name, you will soon. She was the pilot of Southwest Flight 1380 that had to make an emergency landing after a part of its engine was ripped off on April 17, 2018. The engine damaged a window as it broke off and partially sucked a woman out of the aircraft.

In the midst of a potentially horrible tragedy, Shults kept her cool. Shults and her crew calmly and safely landed the plane in Philadelphia, saving all but one of her passengers.

She is a hero.

Southwest Airlines has not officially released her name, but multiple passengers on the plane identify her as their pilot.

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Shults remained extremely cool and collected during the entire incident. She can be heard calmly telling air traffic control about the missing engine in a recording of the incident.

One passenger said that it felt like the plane began to free fall soon after the engine hit the window, but that was not the case. A chart shows that Shults just systematically and safely descended the plane at a very rapid rate.

The plane went from 30,000 feet in elevation to the ground in about 15 minutes!

After the plane landed, she made a point to personally greet every single passenger. Diana McBride Self wrote on Facebook, “Tammie Jo Shults, the pilot came back to talk to each one of us personally. This is a true American Hero.”

Shults takes her job seriously in a professional, technical, and spiritual way. During her flight training, she said that being able to be a pilot would give her the chance “to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”

Amanda Bourman, a passenger on Flight 1380, wrote on Instagram, “The pilot, Tammy Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly. God sent his angels to watch over us. I actually heard someone say, there is a God!!”
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Shults was also one of the first women fighter pilots in the Navy’s history. She had a passion to fly as far back as high school, but at the time girls weren’t allowed in the program. She instead pursued an education to become a veterinarian

While in college, she attended a friend’s brother’s ceremony to get his wings in the Air Force and noticed something that gave her hope. There was a girl in his class! As soon as she graduated, she enrolled in the Navy and became one of the first women to fly an F-18. She eventually became an instructor.

One of her classmates from college said that she was met with a lot of challenges because of her gender. Her college friend said, “So she knew she had to work harder than everybody else. She did it for herself and all women fighting for a chance. I know all women are still fighting today, but I’m extremely proud of her. She saved a lot of lives today.”

Another passenger told The Associated Press, “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. The lady, the crew, everything, everybody was immaculate. They were so professional in what they did to get us on the ground.”

Thanks to Shults’ quick thinking, highly skilled training, and calm demeanor most of her passengers survived. Officials have reported that most of the injuries were minor. There were 143 passengers and five crew members on the flight. While there was one fatality, a cause of death has not yet been determined.

There’s no denying that Shults is a hero!

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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