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'You're no Sully': Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Shults, who landed plane safely after passenger was sucked out of window, reveals how sexist critics undermined her heroic actions and branded her a failure

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 10/9/2019 Leah Simpson For Dailymail.com

The pilot who safely landed a Southwest Airlines flight after an engine exploded, smashing a window and killing a passenger who was sucked out of the aircraft, says she still faces sexism despite her heroic actions.

Tammie Jo Shults calmly landed Flight 1380 in Philadelphia on April 17, 2018, when disaster struck just 22 minutes into the journey from New York to Dallas.

The veteran pilot has now revealed how, despite being compared to Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger, who landed a plane on the Hudson River in a 2009 emergency, saving all passengers on board, she never achieved his status - because she is a woman.

'I recently gave a talk and a woman came up to me and said, "Well, you're no Sully, but I'm excited to hear you speak." It's one example of a thousand sexist things said to me in 35 years of flying.' Shults admitted to Elle.com. 'After my talk, she came up to me and said, "Actually Sully is no you." It's all about perspective and how much information you have.

a woman standing in front of a computer: Tammie Jo Shults says her landing in Philadelphia on April 17, 2018 hasn't received the same attention as Captain Chesley Sullenberger's 2009 landing

Tammie Jo Shults says her landing in Philadelphia on April 17, 2018 hasn't received the same attention as Captain Chesley Sullenberger's 2009 landing
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited
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'Other people have said, "The only reason people are making a big deal about this is because you're a woman. You weren't even successful, because somebody died on the plane." I landed the plane safely though and I don't need to address it further. I did it. People can take the facts and work it out for themselves. Let them connect the dots.'

a person posing for the camera: Jennifer Riordan died after she was partially sucked through a smashed window. One person told Shults: 'You weren't even successful, because somebody died on the plane' © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Jennifer Riordan died after she was partially sucked through a smashed window. One person told Shults: 'You weren't even successful, because somebody died on the plane'

Shults had a phone conversation with Captain Sullenberger the day after the horror and the pair spoke about what she could expect in the future in terms of media.

She tells her story in new book, "Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge, which was released this week.

Shults also told Elle.com: Sully faced the same media onslaught we did when he landed his flight. We had reporters coming to our house and calling us nonstop, so I asked Sully, "What did you wish you knew that you figured out later?" Then we just talked about our experiences and what I could expect in the future in terms of media.' 

Despite regretting 'not a thing' in terms of response to the emergency where Jennifer Riordan, 43, died, the pilot wishes she had given her sweater to the victim.

'The only regret I have is that when they brought Jennifer forward, instead of sitting back to let the medical team just do what they do, I wish I could have helped cover her a little better,' Shults admitted.

'I prayed there was still life in her, and I remember thinking, "She has got to be freezing." It bothered me that I didn't go get my sweater to put on her. It's small, but stepping in and extending a hand to help always makes a big difference.'

Despite regretting 'not a thing' in terms of response to the emergency, the pilot wishes she had given Riordan her sweater to stay warm

Despite regretting 'not a thing' in terms of response to the emergency, the pilot wishes she had given Riordan her sweater to stay warm
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Shults added: 'It's difficult, because when you lose a passenger, it has a completely different posture than when you don't. I was grateful that we made a successful landing and I was in a position to know, more than anyone, that that wasn't a guaranteed fact when everything happened, even until we touched down. When there's a loss of life, it isn't eclipsed by all the good that happens.'

Shults doesn't claim all the credit for her life-saving actions in the event where she and First Officer Darren couldn't even hear each other after the aircraft was struck by a violent shudder and they couldn't focus their eyes as smoke filled the cockpit.

The pilot said a retired nurse on board gave a fellow passenger CPR and another traveler tied the shoelaces of someone who had their hands full.

a person standing in front of a plane: She tells her story in new book Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge, which was released this week © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited She tells her story in new book Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge, which was released this week

Shults said that after a burst of adrenaline she was determined to land the plane safely and when they reached the ground she continued as normal by putting away her oxygen mask, collecting her headset and other belongings, then shaking hands with the passengers as they exited.

Shults' pilot husband Dean was supposed to fly that day but she switched with him so he could attend their son's game.

'Then I texted [my husband] Dean a picture of the busted engine and said, 'I flew this',' she shared.

Three weeks later she was back in the cockpit and flew to Puerto Vallarta and back.

'It was great,' she said about her return to work. 'They gave us as much time as we wanted, but sometimes you need a slice of normal in life.'

I had this burst of adrenaline that made me think so fast and remain so calm. I was thinking to myself, 'I don't think everything is going to stay on this aircraft for us to land, but I'll do everything in my power to make sure we land safely.'

a person wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Shults' pilot husband Dean was supposed to fly that day but she switched with him so he could attend their son's game © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Shults' pilot husband Dean was supposed to fly that day but she switched with him so he could attend their son's game She texted him a picture of the busted engine after the flight and said, 'I flew this'. Pictured, emergency personnel monitor the damaged engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which had diverted to the Philadelphia International Airport © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited She texted him a picture of the busted engine after the flight and said, 'I flew this'. Pictured, emergency personnel monitor the damaged engine of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, which had diverted to the Philadelphia International Airport
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