PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Every week, we salute someone for going above and beyond.
On Friday night, we’re honoring a hero who stepped up and safely landed the damaged Southwest Airlines plane here in Philadelphia.
Our Jessica Dean gives 3 Cheers to Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Shults.
We saw the blown-out engine and busted window, the videos of passengers with oxygen masks on their faces.
The story was harrowing, beginning with the engine blowing apart and an emergency landing that only some of the most experienced pilots could pull off safely.
“The aircraft began a rapid uncommanded left roll of about 41 degrees of bank angle, usually when you’re flying on an airliner you rarely get over 20-25 degrees,” said Robert L. Sumwalt with the National Transportation Safety Board.
Shrapnel knocked out a window and a passenger was fatally injured.
The plane shook–the landing approach was roughly 45 miles per hour faster than normal.
But Captain Tammie Jo Shults didn’t waver. She didn’t panic.
“You know when I heard her voice, I listened to the audio and it didn’t surprise me, that was classic Tammi Jo. She’s just a warm personable person and people are really drawn to her. She’s also really confident…That just really came through in the audio I heard.” Linda Maloney, friend of Shults.
One of the first women to fly fighter jets for the U.S. Navy, some close to Shults have called her the best pilot they’ve ever known.
She met a moment of unimaginable chaos with steely resolve.
“The courage it took for her to control that situation and really save everyone on board is really just unbelievable,” one passenger said.
But that’s what a hero is—full of courage, not at all afraid of being the last line of defense against catastrophe.
There’s no question Shults’ actions prevented an even bigger tragedy that day.
She’s said she felt she was just doing her job.
Courageous, capable and humble.
For that we give Captain Tammie Jo Shults Three Cheers.