Southwest Pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, Hailed as an American Hero


Who is the first person that comes to mind when you think of an American hero? George Washington, the brave general who lead the first US Army into battle and defeated the British troops, thus ensuring the independence of the American colonies? Or maybe Abe Lincoln comes to mind for abolishing slavery. Women wouldn’t have the right to vote if it weren’t for the heroic deeds of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women are among the first to confront men and speak for Women’s Suffrage. These women, and others like them, did everything they could to be heard by others which was extremely difficult. Mrs. Stanton wrote essays and other writings, but many newspapers refused to print her work.


What about modern-day heroes, like the famous NFL player for the Arizona Cardinals, Pat Tillman. He left an outstanding career to become an Army Ranger during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mr. Tillman saved his fellow rangers and provided cover for them when they were under “friendly fire.” The military awarded Pat with the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for paying the ultimate price and for his valiant acts.


The most recent American hero to come on the scene is Southwest pilot, Tammie Jo Shults. Back in April of this year, she executed an emergency landing in Philadelphia, PA. She landed the huge Boeing 737 successfully without injuring her passengers. Nor did the aircraft sustain further damage from the emergency landing. When Tammie contacted Philly’s tower, she described the situation in short, yet clear statements. She knew exactly what happened with the engine, and what she needed when they landed.


So, why was she forced to land the plane as soon as possible? One of the engines exploded and took out a passenger window. Unfortunately, a traveler was pulled through the window part way, but other people on board the flight rescued her. About seven others suffered minor injuries during the emergency. Once the plane landed, Mrs. Shults made rounds to all of the passengers and spoke with them directly to make sure they were ok.


Tammie is a fantastic pilot and served in the US Navy as a fighter pilot. She met this with great opposition though, because she was a woman. Still, she was among the first women to become a pilot. Not only that, but she also became one of the first to fly an F/A Hornet for training missions during Desert Storm as women were not permitted to fly official combat missions. Still, she became a Lieutenant Commander in 1995, which is quite an achievement in the male-dominated US military.


Mrs. Shults credits her military training with helping her land the Southwest plane in a professional, calm, and orderly fashion. The military teaches pilots to evaluate situations and prioritize then tasks quickly and efficiently. Military training is different than training to be a commercial pilot because although airlines have emergencies, they are not fighting the enemy at the same time. Pilots trained in the military learn necessary skills to assess and arrange tasks quickly to complete the mission successfully. Once this is mastered, it becomes second-nature.


Tammie Jo Shults is one of the most recognized American heroes of 2018. She is a woman of great courage and has intense compassion for humanity. The outstanding character of this woman will stand the test of time.