Southwest Hero Pilot Wasn’t Supposed To Be On Terrifying Flight—Here’s Why

Janita Kan
By Janita Kan
May 11, 2018US News
Southwest Hero Pilot Wasn’t Supposed To Be On Terrifying Flight—Here’s Why
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Tammie Jo Shults, who is currently a Southwest Airlines pilot, poses in front of a Navy F/A-18A in this 1992 photo released in Washington, DC, U.S., April 18, 2018. (Thomas P. Milne/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters)

The heroic pilot who was responsible for safely landing a Southwest plane after one of its engines exploded mid-air has revealed that she wasn’t supposed to be on that terrifying flight.

Captain Tammie Jo Shults, a U.S. Navy veteran, said her husband Dean, a fellow pilot for the airline, was supposed to have been piloting flight 1380 on April 17. But she had traded her trip with him in order to make their son’s track meet, reported ABC News.

“Dean, being the amazing husband he is, said, ‘You go to the track meet, I’ll switch and take your trip.’ And so that’s why I was on the trip,” Shults told the news station.

“I traded for the trip with my husband. I’m not trading with him anymore.”

Shults and her copilot first officer Darren Ellisor, a 44-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, had only met each other one day prior before they piloted the Southwest flight together.

They were forced to land the plane at Philadelphia International Airport when it experienced an engine failure about 20 minutes after take off. The flight, carrying 144 passengers and five crew members, departed from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport and was en route to Dallas Love Field airport in Texas.

The force from the exploding engine sent pieces of shrapnel into the plane’s body and shattered one of the plane’s passenger windows. Passenger Jennifer Riordan, 43, was partially sucked out of the window. She died from her injuries. The mother-of-two from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was a Wells Fargo bank executive.

Six other people were injured in the accident.

Shults has been hailed a hero for her deft skills and ability to keep cool under pressure.

“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,” passenger Alfred Tumlinson, a Texas resident, told The Associated Press.

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

An audio recording containing a conversation between Shults and an air traffic controller moments before the plane made an emergency landing revealed what happened during the terrifying landing.

In the recording, Shults could be heard calmly telling air traffic controllers about the engine failure and requesting air traffic control to bring in emergency services.


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