Hero Pilot of Doomed Southwest Flight Wasn't Supposed to Be On It

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Pilot Tammie Jo Shults, who was beforehand a Navy fighter pilot, needed to make an emergency touchdown after an engine explosion; Linda Maloney, a buddy and former fight pilot, shares particulars on 'The Story'.

The 56-year-old US Navy veteran's husband Dean, also a Southwest pilot, was originally supposed to be the captain on Flight 1380 from NY to Dallas that day.

"My first thoughts were actually, 'Oh, here we go.' Just because it seems like a, a flashback to some of the Navy flying that we had done", Shults said. Raddatz reports on what happened in the cockpit and cabin during those 20 decisive minutes and on Tammie Jo, whose heroic actions saved the lives of dozens. She said they communicated by hand signals - and some yelling - because it was so noisy.

Shults dealt with ground control, while Ellisor flew the plane. Due to Southwest protocol, Shults took control for the landing since she was the flight's captain.


Given the extremely terrifying and tragic circumstances, Shults said, "Darren handled it beautifully".

"Really, Darren is just very easy to communicate with".

"You just realize, obviously, we're at the front end of the aircraft, so we're in charge", she told ABC News' 20/20. The Navy Veteran, with her "nerves of steel", was quickly lauded as a hero, but had her day gone as planned - before the tragic incident, that is - she would've have even been on the plane.

Eillsor and Shults told their families about the flight, and while Ellisor's wife expressed concern, Shults said she received a lighthearted response from her son, Marshall. The passenger who was killed was identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43.


The US National Transportation Safety Board revealed this week that it was a fragment of the engine cowling, not a fan blade, that had struck the window of the Southwest plane, resulting in depressurisation of the aircraft and Riordan's death.

Southwest Airways Flight 1380 was on its strategy to Dallas' Love Subject from New York's LaGuardia Airport when it made an emergency touchdown on the runway of Philadelphia Worldwide Airport final month.

Many passengers feared that the plane would crash.


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