Lt. Commander Tammie Jo Shults: Hero Pilot of Southwest Airlines

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 Lt. Commander Tammie Jo Shults: Hero Pilot of Southwest Airlines

I'm assuming everyone by now has seen the news accounts, but on the off chance you haven't:

From Reuters:

The CFM56 engine on Southwest flight 1380 blew apart over Pennsylvania on Tuesday, about 20 minutes after the Dallas-bound flight left New York’s LaGuardia Airport with 149 people on board.

The explosion sent shrapnel ripping into the fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 plane and shattered a window.

Bank executive Jennifer Riordan, 43, was killed when she was partially pulled through a gaping hole next to her seat in row 14 as the cabin suffered rapid decompression. Fellow passengers were able to pull her back inside but she died of her injuries later on Tuesday.

Philadelphia’s medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was blunt trauma to the head, neck and torso, and ruled the death an accident, spokesman Jim Garrow said. 

The real hero was the pilot, Captain Tammie Jo Shults, who used to be Lt. Commander Tammie Jo Shults:

She graduated from MidAmerica in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and agribusiness and then set off to join the military, the university said on Wednesday. The Air Force would not accept her, she told the publication, but the Navy would. She enrolled in Navy flight school in Pensacola, Fla., in 1985 — the start of a decade of groundbreaking service.

“We can confirm that Lt. Commander Shults was among the first cohort of women pilots to transition to tactical aircraft,” the Navy said in a statement on Wednesday.

Captain Shults in 1992 with an F/A-18 Hornet, the twin-engine supersonic fighter jet and bomber she flew. She was one of the first women to fly Navy tactical aircraft. Credit Thomas P. Milne/U.S. Navy, via Associated Press

She flew the F/A-18 Hornet, the twin-engine supersonic fighter jet and bomber. After flight school, in 1989, she was assigned to the Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 34 in Point Mugu, Calif. During the Gulf War, her squadron was led by the first female air commander in the Navy.

But despite her accomplishments, she came up against the limits placed on women in the military. She left active service on March 31, 1993 — two days before the Navy asked the Clinton administration to open combat assignments to women. She then spent about a year in reserves before leaving the military in 1994, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander.

Captain Shults later became a pilot with Southwest Airlines, as did her husband, Dean M. Shults. Southwest Airlines declined to comment about her on Wednesday.

In a brief telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Shults declined to comment, other than to say: “The media has it right — she’s a hero, and I’m proud to be her husband.”

Awesome, and yes, she absolutely is a hero.

Posted in the burner | 3 comments
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This is clearly a person of superior Quality . Well done .

Well done heroism knows no boundaries & no
Genders.. you deserve the greatfullness of your
Passengers & your country... thank you ...
Go Navy

To the pilot who remained composed during the plane explosions flying from Dallas to Philadelphia. She is a real hero.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.