Pilot of Southwest flight with blown engine was Navy fighter

A Southwest Airlines plane sits on the runway at the Philadelphia International Airport after it made an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday

Southwest's heroic pilot Tammie Jo Shults saved 148 lives when she safely landed Flight 1380 after its left engine broke down and damaged the plane mid-flight.

"We owe her our lives", passenger Marty Martinez said in a text message Wednesday. Riordan was reportedly given CPR while on the plane and rushed to a hospital, but her injuries were too severe.

The FAA is ordering airlines to inspect hundreds of jet engines similar to one that exploded on a Southwest flight, killing one and injuring seven others.

For the next 40 minutes, she displayed what one passenger later called "nerves of steel", maneuvering the plane, which had been on its way from La Guardia Airport in NY to Dallas Love Field, toward Philadelphia for an emergency landing.

The New Mexico native, who was one of the first female Navy fighter pilots, can be heard in audio transmissions calmly explaining the situation to an air-traffic controller.

"We have a part of the aircraft missing, so we're going to need to slow down a bit", Shults replies, before settling into a lower altitude of 3,000 feet.

Passengers described the former US Navy fighter pilot as having "nerves of steel" during the chaos before miraculously landing the plane. "And is your airplane physically on fire?"

"No its not on fire but part of it's missing", Shults responds. "They said there's a hole and someone went out".

After an inaudible exchange, the controller said, "we'll work it out there" at the airport in Philadelphia.

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Passengers said Shults walked through the aisle and talked with them to make sure they were OK after the plane touched down.

Here's what we know about the hero airwoman who bravely guided the flight to earth. Shults resigned in 1993 just a few days before the Navy requested that women be allowed to fly in combat. Southwest said Wednesday it isn't sharing details about the flight crew, though a spokeswoman said, "We couldn't be more proud of their actions".

Even someone who's never personally seen a female pilot should be able to entertain the notion that there are fliers who don't happen to be men.

While in the Navy, Capt. Shults served at the Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron in Point Mugu, Calif., as an instructor pilot flying the EA-6B Prowler and F/A-18 Hornet, the Navy said.

Shults was commissioned into the Navy in 1985 and reached the rank of lieutenant commander, said Commander Ron Flanders, spokesman for Naval Air Forces in San Diego.

But her path wasn't easy. She has led the children's worship program at First Baptist and taught Sunday School for children, middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults, said Staci Thompson, a longtime friend and administrative assistant in the church office.

"He started the class by asking me, the only girl in attendance, if I was lost". "My brother says she's the best pilot he knows".

Women account for similar shares of pilots employed by WestJet, Air Transat and Jazz. "I did not say another word".

Phillips said that that there was a lot of resistance for women to fly jets and for Shults "to fly a fighter aircraft when nobody even wanted her there is pretty incredible".

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