Shults Inducted into Air & Space Hall of Fame
Tammie Jo Shults, a retired Southwest Airlines pilot, has been inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame in San Diego. Once a female pioneer as a U.S. Navy aviator, Shults is probably best known as the captain of Southwest Flight 1380, which, in April 2018, had its engine torn apart by a piece of a fan blade that broke off causing a window to break out in the Boeing 737. That resulted in decompression of the aircraft and pulled a passenger partially out of the window causing the passenger’s death.
Despite the hazardous conditions amid the unstable aircraft, Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor calmly piloted the Dallas-bound plane to Philadelphia International Airport and no one else on the plane was seriously injured.
Like most pilots, her commercial aviation career was mostly uneventful until Flight 1380, but she credited her Navy F/A-18 fighter jet training for her quick decision making. This made her a notable figure in modern aviation and put her on the radar of the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.
“I was shocked when they asked me,” said Shults in an interview. “Certainly, this was never part of the horizon I saw for myself.”
Her induction into the Hall of Fame puts her in some select company to include Buzz Aldrin, Charles Lindburgh, Amelia Earhart, Chuck Yeager, and Bill Boeing.
Shults, who took early retirement from Southwest in April as part of the airline’s efforts to cut back on expenses to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, lives outside San Antonio and now spends her time with speaking engagements and charity work. She continues to fly jets for a charity called Angel Flights, which provides transport for passengers in need of distant medical treatment.