McCaskill ribs Air Force over female Navy vet who landed Southwest plane

The calm conversation happened as the plane was plummeting toward its emergency landing in Philly.

Virginia Shults said that her daughter-in-law Tammie Jo was likely heartbroken about the passenger who died.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt briefs reporters at National Airport in in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, April 17, 2018, on the Southwest Airlines plane incident in Philadelphia. "So the airport is just off to your right, report it in sight please".

"Southwest 1380, we're single engine", Capt. Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, said. Although it turned out that the passenger was not ejected, shrapnel from the plane's exploded engine smashed a cabin window and caused a fatal injury.

"We have part of the aircraft missing, so we're going to need to slow down a bit", she's heard calmly telling air traffic controllers in audio transmissions after reporting the aircraft's engine failure.

"She's very much so got a gentle heart that wants people to feel loved and feel important", said friend Rachel Russo.

The air transport pilot who is repeatedly mistaken for a flight attendant, or, if she is recognized for what she is, has to listen to passengers grumble within earshot - and sometimes to her face - that they don't like flying with a woman in the cockpit. That lady, I applaud her. "That's how she's wired".

Shortly after that article was published, Defense Secretary Les Aspin lifted the restrictions on female pilots flying combat missions.

"While we at that time had an exclusion, she was in fact helping male pilots hone their skills", Flanders said. Andrew Needum, a firefighter from Celina, Texas, came to help, and the two of them managed to drag her back inside.

".I didn't know if we were going to be running into a building".

After realizing the plane was in trouble, she made a distress call to air traffic control, asking for medical personnel to meet the plane on the Philadelphia runway. In a March 1993 interview with the Navy's All Hands magazine, Shults said, "It would be nice if they would take away the ceilings [women] have over our heads".

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the plane had undergone an inspection two days before the explosion, but he said he was not aware of the nature of that inspection or whether it included a specific inspection of that engine. She said in the book that the Air Force wasn't interested, but the Navy gave her an opening.

Shults, 56, is a 1983 graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, receiving her degree in biology and agribusiness, said Carol Best, a spokeswoman for the university.

Passengers praised Capt Shults' actions as "heroic", and said she stayed on board and spoke individually to each passenger as they disembarked.

"In VAQ-34, gender doesn't matter there's no advantage or disadvantage", she said. Her husband is also a pilot for Southwest Airlines, and her mother-in-law has shared a few details about Tammie Jo and why she knew that she was more than capable of maneuvering through such a terrifying flight.

  • Zachary Reyes