Southwest pilot was one of Navy’s first female fighter pilots

When a Southwest Airlines plan en route from New York to Dallas had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia, one person was killed and 149 passengers were saved after an engine exploded while flying at 32,000 feet. But thanks to a skilled and history-making pilot, the damage could have been much worse.

That’s because the pilot — Tammy Jo Shults — may have used her experience as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot to help mitigate the damage, according to HuffPost. With her first flying experiences in the Navy “touching down F-18 fighter jets at 150 miles per hour on aircraft carriers,” HuffPost reports that Shults was “one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy.”

But had it not been for her own determination, Shults may not have been the pilot on that flight — or at all. HuffPost says that when Shults was in high school, she tried to attend an aviation career day, but was told they did not accept girls. Determined to fly, she went on to study medicine and applied to the Air Force, who HuffPost reports did not let her test to become a pilot — but the U.S. Navy did.

After becoming a pilot, Shults eventually went on to be an instructor before she left the Navy in 1993 and joined Southwest, says HuffPost, leading up to her fateful day piloting the flight-gone-wrong from New York to Texas.

Many of the passengers on Southwest flight 1380 took to social media to thank Shults, says HuffPost, calling her “amazing” for being able to land the passengers safely.


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