On Tuesday, an entire planeful of people –- pilot, crew and passengers –- en route from New York to Dallas via Southwest Airlines showed incredible composure and courage as an exploded engine forced them down in Philadelphia. Somehow it almost seems inadequate to call them Huck’s Heroes, because in this case that goes without saying. When a piece of metal from the blast on the wing pierced one of the windows, depressurizing the cabin at 32,000 feet and sucking a woman partially out of the plane, they tried in vain to save her life and showed remarkable bravery during what was almost certainly the most frightening event of their lives.
As for the pilot, we’re learning a bit about the woman who calmly notified air traffic control of their situation and completed her emergency landing with one engine dead. (“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” she matter-of-factly reported to the tower. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit...they said there’s a hole and, uh, someone went out.”) Former Navy pilot Tammie Jo Schults, 56, was already known for breaking barriers for female fighter pilots, and her unshakable attitude would surprise no one who worked with her. But one reason for her incredible sense of calm that probably won’t be mentioned in many reports is that Schults is a devout Christian.
After the landing, witnesses to her compassion as well as her skill were posting to Facebook about her “nerves of steel” and talent for inspiring confidence. “There are not enough words to thank her,” wrote passenger Diana McBride Self. “Her grace and knowledge under pressure were remarkable. She came through the plane personally to check on us after she landed our crippled airplane. God bless her and her flight crew. We were truly all in amazing hands.”
As someone who knows to let God be her guide at the “controls,” Schults would no doubt say the same.
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