Tammie Jo Shults: The lady pilot with nerves of steel

This article is based on the news item published on18th April 2018 in the newspaper 'Times of India'. This pertains to an mid-air explosion in a US Southwest Airlines plane which was safe landed in a nearby airport by the lady pilot Tammie Jo Shults commanding the flight. The courage and alertness of this lady pilot is really praiseworthy.


Mid-air plane explosions or mishaps are very dangerous and in such situation the presence of mind and intelligence of the pilot matters most. As per news published on 18th April 2018 in Times of India, one such accident happened mid-air on 17th April (Tuesday) 2018. It was a US Southwest Airlines flight number 1380 going from New York to Dallas. The lady pilot Tammie Jo Shults, a veteran Navy pilot was in command and has shown great courage and calmness in mitigating the situation by landing the plane in the nearby airport only with one engine working.

The details of Incident

The Southwest Airlines flight 1380 (Boeing 737) took off from La Guardia Airport, New York at 11 AM local time for Dallas and climbed to about 30000 feet in the air before proceeding towards Dallas. The plane was carrying 144 passengers and 5 crew members on board. The flight was to take about 4 hours to reach Dallas but within the 20 minutes of take off, the fatal mishap occured in one of the engines.

The plane's left engine exploded after one of its fan blades was broken. A gust of shrapnel blew out a window near row 14 and as air pressure in the plane suddenly decreased, the Oxygen masks dropped down and the plane plunged thousands of feet in a short time. Due to pressure difference, one unfortunate passenger in Row 14 was partly sucked out headfirst into the sky. Later a fellow traveller pulled him back into the plane and provided first aid though that passenger could not survive his injuries and died.

The debris from the damaged engine and whirling air in the depressurized cabin made a horrible scene inside the plane. The passengers became panicky and started praying. A few managed to take photographs and videos to upload in Facebook and other social media.

Prompt Action by the Lady Pilot

The experienced lady pilot Tammie Jo Shults kept calm and consoled the passengers as well as showed great courage and unprecedented intelligence in finding a way out and decided to land in the nearest airport that is Philadelphia.

She flew with one engine, displaying what one passenger would later call "nerves of steel". She was well trained to handle stress in the cockpit. She had flown supersonic F/A-18 Hornets as one of the Navy's first female pilots at a time when women were still barred from combat duty, before leaving active service in 1993.

Shults calmly radioed air traffic controllers in Philadelphia to discuss her approach. She told them that the flight was carrying injured passengers and needed emergency medical aid on the ground.

By 1110 AM the flight started descending toward Philadelphia and the passengers were scrambling to put on oxygen masks and buy internet access so they could send a last message to their children and families. But the plane landed gently at around 1120 AM and with big applause, the passengers pulled out their mobiles to text and call their families to report that they were all right.

Two people died in this accident and a few others were injured.


This mid-air horrific incident has highlighted the presence of mind, calmness and alertness of the lady pilot Tammie Jo Shults who safe landed the plane in spite of such an explosion. The prompt and brave action taken by this lady pilot is a quotable example for generations to come.


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