A Southwest Airlines plane was en route to Texas from La Guardia Airport when its left engine exploded around 11:20 a.m. yesterday. While planes can fly without one engine in an emergency, in this explosion, a piece of shrapnel flew up and smashed a window, causing the cabin to depressurize.
As chaos ensued onboard, oxygen masks dropped and passengers braced for impact, the pilot at the helm stayed calm as she took the Boeing 737 into a rapid descent for an emergency landing in Philadelphia. National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt said it was the first passenger fatality in an accident involving a U.S. airline since 2009.
The heroic pilot was Tammie Jo Shults, who earned her nerves of steel while flying in the U.S. Navy. Here are a few things to know about Schults, before Clint Eastwood turns her incredible story into a sequel to Sully:
- She attended MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, in 1983, majoring in agribusiness and biology, according to the Kansas City Star.
- She wanted to fly planes and signed up with the Navy, only after the Air Force denied her a chance to become a pilot, according to a former classmate.
- She became one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots
- She was one of the first women to fly an F/A-18 Horney fighter jet
- She trained pilots in the military before becoming a pilot for Southwest Airlines.
- She is married to a pilot and they have two children
We love women in aviation! Tammie Jo Shults, one of the pilots responsible for landing the Southwest Airlines flight 1380 that experienced an engine explosion. She was one of the first women pilots in the Navy and first women to fly the F-18 fighter jet. #womeninaviation pic.twitter.com/6bJgO6caZ1
— Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor (@PacificAviation) April 18, 2018