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Female pilot lauded for her ‘Nerves Of Steel’ during emergency landing

Passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 clasped hands in prayer and all ready to die. After all, they are thousands of feet up in the air and one of the plane’s engines exploded, one passenger was sucked out of her window holding for her dear life and seven others were injured.

The 20 minutes of terror they endured, one stood as a hero. Tammie Jo Shults – the female pilot manning the Southwest Flight 1380 steeled herself and put the lives of her passengers in priority. She was later praised for handling the frightening situation well.


Passengers claimed that 20 minutes after their departure from New York, they heard explosions. Oblivious to what happened, the passengers started to panic when they heard the scream of other passengers. It turned out that debris of the exploded engine flew and busted one of the windows. Immediately, the female passenger sitting by that window was being sucked by the pressure.

SWA1380 was heading to Dallas, Texas onboard 149 persons, including the crew.

Oxygen masks were now dangling in front of the passengers. Everyone was in panic.


Shults got in touch with an air traffic controller and explained their situation and immediately requested for an emergency landing.

Surprisingly, based on an audio recording, there is no panic in Shults’s voice and calmly said, “We have a part of the aircraft missing.”

Another part of the recording caught Shults asking for medical assistance upon landing, “”Could you have the medical meet us there on the runway as well? We’ve got injured passengers.”


The air traffic controller then asked, “Injured passengers, OK. And is your airplane physically on fire?”

To which Shults replied, “No, it’s not on fire, but part of it is missing. They said there’s a hole and that someone went out.”


In an attempt to reassure the passengers of safety, the female pilot told the passengers is heading to Philadelphia. Then, the passengers heard, “Brace for landing. Brace for landing.”

It was a rough but safe landing. Passengers claimed that the pilot walked through the aisle to assure them that everything is alright. The passengers are thankful that they made out of the experience alive.

However, the female passenger that was sucked out of the busted window, Jennifer Riordan, unfortunately, died in the hospital after sustaining fatal injuries. Seven other passengers are also reportedly injured.


The woman emerging as the hero in this whole situation was later found out as a former Navy pilot. She joined the Navy in 1985, two years after earning her bachelor’s degree in biology and agribusiness from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas.

Shults is one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots, she served in VAQ-34, a tactical electronic warfare squadron out of Point Mugu, California, that helped train ship crews to respond to Soviet missile threats, according to Navy records.


Shults was among the “first cohort of women pilots to transition to tactical aircraft,” said Lt. Christina Helenaleka Sears, a Navy spokeswoman.

Here is the audio recording of the conversation between the pilot Tammie Jo Shults and the air traffic controller:


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Barbara Drabek

Thursday 19th of April 2018

An amazing story-I feel bad that the one woman was sucked out ot the plane. I am thinking that the windows aren't big enough for a person to be sucked out by the air pressure. How could this happen? That had to be some suction for this to happen.


Thursday 19th of April 2018

She is a phenomenal person and so much credit should be given to her nerves of steel. She will be remembered right beside Capt Sullenberg. I am so glad she works for Southwest Airlines. They are the best. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Jennifer.


Thursday 19th of April 2018

Agree with Patricia's comments re. Capt. Tammie Jo Shults equal to Capt. Sullenberg. Prayers and condolences to Jennifer, the passenger who died.

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