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Southwest Pilot: Cool and Heroic Under Pressure

NextTribe female Southwest pilot

“Nerves of steel”: That’s the phrase no one can avoid when talking about Tammie Jo Shults, 56, the amazing Texan who somehow landed Southwest Airlines flight 1380 after one of the engines failed. Tragically, one life was lost, but Shults is being applauded for staying calm and bringing the 737 to a safe landing.

She called upon her Navy experience; she was one of the first female fighter pilots and supposedly didn’t let resistance due to her gender hinder her flight dreams. Anyone who has heard the recording of her conversation with ground control, saying, “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit…could you have medical meet us there on the runway as well?” knows that she was the very definition of grace under pressure.

Though she chatted with the passengers as they left the plane, making sure they were okay, Shults has been humble in the wake of this experience, avoiding the TV talk-show circuit, at least as yet. Friends and family have described her as a low-key “woman of faith,” and it seems she’s happy to let her actions speak louder than words.

–Janet Siroto

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