Hero Southwest Pilot Was One of Navy’s First Female Fighter Pilots

The pilot who guided a Southwest Airlines plane to safety Tuesday after part of its engine blew off at 32,000 feet has been identified as Tammie Jo Shults, one of the U.S. Navy’s first female fighter pilots. Shults, who was also reportedly one of the first women to fly a F/A-18 fighter jet, has been credited with saving the lives of nearly 150 passengers on board Flight 1380 after successfully conducting an emergency landing in Philadelphia with a gaping hole in the plane. One passenger died after shrapnel from the plane’s engine blew in her window, but other passengers said the situation could have been much worse if not for Shults’ calm under pressure. While Southwest has not named Shults as the pilot, several passengers publicly praised her after the incident. “The pilot, Tammy Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly,” passenger Amanda Bourman wrote on Instagram. Another passenger, Diana McBride Self, called Shults a “true American hero” for her “guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation,” adding that Shults spoke with each passenger personally after landing.