By Carol Pipes
Hours after she guided Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 to safety, Captain Tammie Jo Shults texted three short words to a fellow pilot and friend, “God is good.”
Shults has been hailed a hero for her calm and steady response when the Boeing 737 she was piloting suffered a mid-flight engine failure. The flight was en route to Dallas Love Field from New York City.
Shults, one of the first female fighter pilots in the U.S. Navy, guided the plane to an emergency landing in Philadelphia on its one remaining engine.
A recording of Shults’ conversation with air traffic control went viral yesterday. From the cockpit, she calmly explained the situation and asked for emergency and medical crews to meet the plane.
Longtime friend and fellow church member Staci Thompson told The Dallas Morning News a deep Christian faith has guided the way Shults lives.
According to Reuters, Shults said that sitting in the captain’s chair gave her “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”
Shults and her husband, Dean, who is also a Southwest pilot, live in Boerne, Texas, where they attend First Baptist Church.
Shults has taught nearly every grade level of Sunday school at their church, according to the Dallas Morning News. She’s volunteered at a school for at-risk kids and turned a cottage on her family’s property into a temporary home for victims of Hurricane Rita and widows.
“She would tell you everything she has she’s been given from God, so she wants to share it,” Thompson told the Dallas Morning News.
Shults and first officer Darren Ellisor issued a statement through Southwest late Wednesday:
“As Captain and First Officer of the Crew of five who worked to serve our Customers aboard Flight 1380 yesterday, we all feel we were simply doing our jobs. Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss.”
CAROL PIPES (@CarolPipes) is editor in chief of Facts & Trends.