Hero Southwest Pilot Speaks of Her Experience

June 13, 2018 Last Updated: June 13, 2018

The Southwest Airline pilot who landed safely during an emergency in April recently spoke about the ordeal and how her faith helped her through it.

Captain Tammie Jo Shults is a military veteran and one of the first female fighter pilots in US Navy history. She addressed attendees at the NRF Prevention Loss Conference and Expo in Grapevine, Texas.

Captain Shults spoke about the ordeal that started when one of the engines on her airplane blew up two months ago.

“It would be alarming, because it was a rapid roll,” said Robert Sumwalt, NTSB Investigator.

Shults gave the group some personal insights about her experience that day on Flight 1380. She talked about how she and her crew reacted and how the passengers played a crucial role.

“When I opened that door I expected to see frightened, angry, anxious people and instead I opened the door to this calm, quiet, attentive group of people,” she said.

The explosion shattered the 14th-row window, and 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan was partially sucked out of the plane. She later died. Shults praised the passengers who got up to help her.

“They got out of their safe seats with seat belts and during a very rough ride rendered aid to a stranger,” she said. “The value of human life was felt that day.”

Shults also said she and her crew trusted each other and their training.

“I also made a note of what she said, ‘You play the way you practice,’ and I think there is a lot of truth to that,” said Mark Hand, who attended the NRF conference.

“Her calm demeanor was especially remarkable, just the calm demeanor which she approached the situation and still was able to communicate under extreme pressures,” said Dell Miller, also attending the NRF conference.

That was clear from the exchange between Shults and the tower in the moments after the explosion.

“Is your airplane physically on fire?” asked the tower. Answered Shults, “No, it’s not on fire but part of it’s missing. … They said there is a hole and someone went out.”

Shults and her crew took some time off to help each other deal with what they went through, and she started flying again a month ago.