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Can We All Take A Moment to Appreciate the Pilot of Southwest Flight 1380?

Can We All Take A Moment to Appreciate the Pilot of Southwest Flight 1380?
Jackie Reddy

Tammie Jo Shults, a former Navy fighter pilot and pilot of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, has been praised as a hero for guiding the craft to a safe emergency landing at PHL after it suffered engine failure on Tuesday. The plane’s fuselage was pierced after the explosion of its left engine.

Tammie Jo Shults, the pilot of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, has been hailed a hero for guiding the craft to safety after it suffered engine failure at 32,000 feet on Tuesday. The plane was traveling from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York to Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL) when the incident occurred.

Shults conducted the safe emergency landing of the craft, the fuselage of which was pierced by shrapnel from the explosion of its left engine approximately 20 minutes out of New York.

This, in turn, caused a cabin window to smash and the cabin itself to depressurize. At this point, it is also reported that a traveler who has been named as Jennifer Riordan, was sucked toward the hole in the fuselage, but was pulled back by her fellow passengers. Though taken to hospital upon landing, it has been announced that Riordan died as a result of her injuries.

Shults piloted the craft to a lower altitude and conducted a safe emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). In an excerpt of the audio recording between Shults and air traffic control, as quoted by the Evening Standardshe is heard to inform the controller, “So we have a part of the aircraft missing.” Shults also requested medical assistance upon landing in PHL.

Shults, who was one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots, joined Southwest in 1993 after having been an instructor. In addition to being hailed for her cool demeanor, passengers were gratified to find that Shults paused to speak to them after landing the flight.

Passenger Diana McBride Self wrote, “Tammie Jo Schults, the pilot came back to speak to each of us personally. This is a true American Hero. A huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation. God bless her and all the crew.”

Gary Shults, her brother-in-law, was quoted by the Associated Press, as saying, “She’s a formidable woman, as sharp as a tack. My brother says she’s the best pilot he knows. She’s a very caring, giving person who takes care of lots of people.”

View Comments (6)


  1. jonsail

    April 18, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    I listened to the audio of Tammie Shults talking to air traffic control. She sounded so calm and must have been to chat with the passengers afterwards. As an older guy I can remember back when many men thought women were too emotional to have stress jobs. Congratulation Ms. Shults for a job superbly done.

  2. JackE

    April 19, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    jonsail, let’s admire her without putting down men.

  3. iahphx

    April 22, 2018 at 9:32 am

    She definitely sounds calm. In fact, a bit too calm for my taste! Like she mentions that there’s a passenger “out” like it’s a fairly routine problem! I would think the “best” pilot would convey both calmness AND urgency/realism. But this is obviously nit-picky. She didn’t panic, and she safely got the aircraft on the ground. That all anyone would want!

  4. kvom

    April 22, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    I haven’t heard anything about the copilot and what he/she was doing during the emergency.

  5. climmy

    April 23, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    1993 join date. I assume that would make her PIC (although the articles don’t seem to explicitly state that). Wouldn’t the PIC be flying only while the FO takes over comms? I suppose there are exceptions since Cactus 1549 seems to also indicate otherwise.

    Either way, the tapes indicate a very calm demeanor indicative of great training and disposition in a serious situation.

    She gets major kudos from me. I’d fly behind her any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

  6. mdword

    April 24, 2018 at 9:06 am

    JackE, I don’t see how jonsail’s comment was putting down men at all.

    Many men over the years have voiced the opinion that women are too emotional to have high stress jobs. I’m not an older guy, and I’ve still heard it plenty. Of course not all men, but it is something that’s been voiced often enough and I don’t think referencing the fact that it’s an opinion which has been held is an attack in any way.

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