‘God Sent His Angels’: Former Navy Fighter Pilot Hailed as a Hero for Safely Landing Damaged Plane

Hero pilot: Tammie Joe Shults: Sitting in the captain's chair gives her "the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight."

By Nancy Flory Published on April 18, 2018

A former Navy fighter pilot was at the controls of a Southwest Airlines jet yesterday when an engine exploded, forcing her to make an emergency landing.

Tammie Jo Shults is being hailed as a hero for her calm demeanor and “nerves of steel,” according to one passenger.

Southwest Airlines flight 1380 took off from New York’s La Guardia airport headed to Dallas Love Field. The left engine blew at 32,000 feet and sent shrapnel through a passenger window. One woman was nearly sucked out of the plane and fellow passengers had to pull her back in. One passenger was killed and seven others were injured. The plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

During the ordeal, Shults calmly told air traffic controllers that a “piece of the aircraft” was missing and she needed to land quickly.

Listen to the Air Traffic Control audio:


Several passengers praised Shults on social media. Diana McBride Self wrote on Facebook that, “There are not enough words to thank her. Her grace and knowledge under pressure were remarkable. She came through the plane personally to check on us after she landed our crippled airplane. God bless her and her flight crew. We were truly all in amazing hands.”

Amanda Bourman wrote on Instagram that Schults was amazing. “She landed us safely in Philly. God sent his angels to watch over us. I actually heard someone say, there is a God!!”

Bourman told Daily Mail that some people were crying while others were trying to keep everyone calm. Bourman and her husband prayed. 

“I just remember holding my husband’s hand, and we just prayed and prayed and prayed. And the thoughts that were going through my head of course were about my daughters, just wanting to see them again and give them a big hug so they wouldn’t grow up without parents.”

Another passenger tweeted “I Survived #flight1380 Jesus Saves!! #imnotluckyimloved.”


I Survived #flight1380 Jesus Saves!! #imnotluckyimloved

A post shared by rubsmewrite (@rubsmewrite) on

Shults enlisted in the Navy in the ’80s and was one of the first female fighter pilots in U.S. military history.

A Christian, Shults once said that sitting in the captain’s chair gave her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”


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