Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults successfully landed her plane on Tuesday after one of the engines exploded and killed a passenger.
Here is everything you need to know about this American hero, who remained incredibly calm during the tragic incident. (RELATED: Southwest Pilot Was As Cool As A Cucumber During Engine Failure)
1. Shults was one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. military
Prior to becoming a commercial pilot, Shults joined the U.S. Navy and became one of the first female fighter pilots in the United States. According to classmate Cindy Foster, Shults initially wanted to join the Air Force but was denied an opportunity because of her gender.
Shults was one of the first women to fly an F/A-18 Hornet for the Navy and went on to train other military pilots.
2. She is a woman of faith
Shults is a Christian and said that being a pilot gives her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”
Amanda Bourman, one of the passengers on the damaged plane asserted, “God sent his angels to watch over us.”
3. She retired as a lieutenant commander
Shults served in the Navy from 1985 to 2001 and retired as a lieutenant commander. She also earned two Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medals and a National Defense Service Medal and was a pistol marksman.
4. Her husband is also a Southwest pilot and she has two children
Gary Shults, Shults’ brother-in-law, said that her husband is also a pilot with Southwest Airlines. Shults has two children.
5. Passengers praised Shults’ “nerves of steel”
Passengers on Shults’ flight said she had “nerves of steel” and comforted the passengers on the plane, even during the tragic scenario.
“The pilot was a veteran of the Navy,” passenger Kathy Farnan told CNN. “She was very good.”
Passenger Alfred Tumlinson said, “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.”