The Southwest Airlines pilot who managed to safely land in Philadelphia after an engine on the Boeing 737 she was piloting exploded was a former Navy pilot and one of the first women to fly an F/A-18 fighter jet. Tammie Jo Shults enlisted in the Navy after graduating MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas in 1983. She showed off her piloting skills and "nerves of steel" while she "landed her fighter plane on boats at 150 miles per hour." She would eventually become an instructor before resigning her commission in 1993.
Shults military training took over when the engine exploded. She kept her cool as the cabin depressurized when shrapnel from the engine shattered a window at 30,000 feet. With one engine out, Shults remained calm as she spoke with air traffic control while she prepared to land the damaged plane.
Passengers commended her for managing to land the plane without any further incident. Alfred Tumlinson told the Kansas City Star she had "nerves of steel" and Eric Zilbert said "the plane was steady as a rock after (the engine blew). I didn't have any fear that it was out of control."
Diana McBride Self thanked Shults and the Southwest crew in a Facebook post.
Alfred & I were on this flight along with 5 other Texas Farm Bureau Agents & spouses.
There are no words to explain the fear & anxiety that is experienced first hand in a situation like this. It’s traumatic to say the least.
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.
In closing, all I can say is live each day to the fullest and like it’s your last because one day it will be.
Life is short, get your affairs in order and then live.
Prayers go out to the beautiful person that was severely injured.
Shults is married to Dean Marcus Shults, who is also a pilot. They live in Texas and have two children.