Former Navy fighter pilot Tammie Jo Shults is being hailed as a hero for her calm, commanding display of bravery as she safely landed a Southwest Airlines jet on Tuesday after it blew an engine at 30,000 feet.
"She has nerves of steel," passenger Alfred Tumlinson told the AP. "That lady, I applaud her. I’m going to send her a Christmas card--I’m going to tell you that--with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome."
Fellow passenger Diana McBride Self wrote on Facebook that Shults "came back to speak to each of us personally," calling her "a true American hero."
Meanwhile, audio of Shults' radio transmission during the crisis--which claimed the life of one passenger while injuring seven others--is going viral online. Her mother-in-law Virginia Shults told The Washington Post about the clip, "It was just as if she and I were sitting here talking. She’s a very calming person."
A Connecticut man who was on a Southwest Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Philadelphia is praising the crew.
Jim Demetros told "NBC Connecticut" that both the crews in the cabin and in the cockpit were amazing after panic set in among passengers once the engine blew on Tuesday. He called members of the cabin crew heroes for jumping into action to treat several passengers who were injured when the engine let go. Demetros says he travels a lot and plans to be back in the air again soon.
We now know it was blunt-force trauma that killed a New Mexico woman on that doomed Southwest flight. Officials say 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan died after debris from a fan blade struck her in the head, neck and torso when it shattered a window near her seat. The married mother of two young kids, a bank executive, was wearing her seat belt when she was partially sucked out that window.