(Reuters) – The pilot who safely landed a stricken Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday got her first flying experience in the U.S. Navy, touching down F-18 fighter jets at 150 miles per hour on aircraft carriers.
Tammie Jo Shults, 56, may have drawn on her Navy skills when one of the two engines on her Boeing 737-700 blew and broke apart at 32,000 feet on Tuesday, forcing her to implement a rapid descent toward Philadelphia International Airport.
The explosion killed one passenger and nearly sucked another out of a shattered window.
One of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy, Shults calmly told air traffic control that part of her plane was missing, and she would need ambulances on the runway.
“So we have a part of the aircraft missing so we’re going to need to slow down a bit,” Shults told a controller.
Many of the 144 passengers sang her praise on social media after Shults thanked them for their bravery as they left the plane.
“The pilot Tammy Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly,” said Amanda Bourman on Instagram.
Bourman was among passengers who said they had been saved by divine intervention.
“God sent his angels to watch over us,” she said.