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Born again with ‘Nerves of steel’, ‘hero’ pilot Tammie Jo Shults successfully landed stricken Southwest jet


Southwest Airline jet Credit: David デビッド Deitering/Flickr/Creative Commons

Southwest Airline jet Credit: David デビッド Deitering/Flickr/Creative Commons

Commercial pilot Tammie Jo Shults, 56, is credited with safely landing a Boeing 737 on Tuesday, April 17, after its engine exploded resulting in shrapnel shattering a window, de-pressurizing the cabin and damaging the jet’s wing and fuselage.

It resulted in one death and another seven injured. The woman who died was being sucked out of the plane, but several passengers bravely fought to keep her inside. She died later in hospital.

UPDATE: USA Today wrote a story on the stetson-wearing cowboy, Tim McGinty, who along with firefighter Andrew Needum risked their lives to pull the woman back into the plane. In the interview, Tim’s wife Kristin said, “My husband loves God and believes our purpose here is to love fiercely and to serve others. Some heroes wear capes, but mine wears a cowboy hat.”

Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 was on a regularly scheduled trip from New York’s La Guardia Airport to Dallas Texas, when Shults was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

Shults’s journey to the pilot chair with Southwest Airlines was not an easy one. After graduating from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas in 1983, She applied to the air force to become a pilot. When they would not allow her  to take the flying test, she turned to the U.S. Navy where she became one of the first women to fly a supersonic jet fighter. Shults finished her career serving as a flight instructor before moving to Southwest Airlines in 1993.

But Shults is not only one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots, she is also a born again Christian. An article on Yahoo News, reports that Shults is very vocal about her faith and quoted her saying she has “the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.”

Combined with her training as a fighter pilot requiring her to land jets traveling at 150 mile per hour on aircraft carriers and Southwest’s in-depth emergency training, Shults calmly did everything by the book as she safely landed the stricken jet.

Many have called her a hero and in an interview with CBS, Alfred Tumlinson, a passenger on the Jet, said Shults “has nerves of steel. That lady I applaud her. I’m  going to send her a Christmas card – I’m going to tell you that – with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.”

Another passenger, Robert Bourman said “God sent his angels to watch over us.” On a Facebook comment, Diana McBride said “her grace and knowledge under pressure were remarkable. She came through the plane personally to check on us after she landed the crippled plane.”

When you look at Shults’s career you see a determination to not allow circumstances to control her destiny. After being rejected by the air force, she could have easily quit, but didn’t.

I also see her calmness and bravery in the midst of a very dangerous situation, as God placed her in the right place at the right time.

There are a number of famous women in the Bible, who were noted because of their faith in God.  But there are a few who not only had that, but also showed incredible courage in very dangerous situations.

Two women that caught my attention are the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, whose names are specifically mentioned in Exodus when God delivered the Jews out of Egypt. Concerned about the growing Jewish presence in Egypt, the Pharaoh ordered the two midwives to kill the baby boys as the Hebrew women were giving birth.

Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; 16 and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” (Exodus 1:15-16 NASV)

The birth stool mentioned was simply two stones or bricks that the Egyptian women knelt on as they gave birth. Birth deaths were very high in Egypt and they used “magical” birth stones to try to protect the babies. It is uncertain if the Jewish women used the same procedure. However, it appears initially the Pharaoh wanted the deaths to look natural or accidental.

But the two midwives showed incredible bravery and defied the Pharaoh. They risked their lives. The Bible says the two women “feared God,” which translated means they feared God more than man (Exodus 1:17).

When it came to the pharaoh’s attention that the midwives were not following his instructions, he questioned them. The two answered that Jewish women were much more vigorous in delivery than the Egyptian women and were giving birth before the midwives could get to them.

However, the Hebrew word for midwife (myalldot) is not in the passive form but intensive, a subtle difference that some believe suggests the two women were aggressively using all the tricks in the repertoire to hurry along the deliveries.

This act of bravery was so significant that their names were cited in the Exodus account, as Tammie’s name is mentioned in the news stories today.

Tammie, her husband Dean (also a pilot) and two children live in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas

Sources:

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