Tammy Jo never doubted her abilities; so why all the to-do?



April 20, 2018 - 11:00 PM

No doubt expectant parents are now mulling the name Tammy Jo for their infant daughters.

And for the baby’s room they’ll switch out pink buttons and bows for an aeronautic theme. Kites, balloons and fighter jets.

Tammy Jo Shults is the woman who safely landed a passenger airplane Tuesday morning after one of its engines had exploded in midair.

It was no small feat.

The explosion blew out a cabin window, fatally injuring the window-seat passenger.

With only one engine functioning, Captain Shults banked the violently shaking plane to a steep 45-degree angle to take it from an altitude of 30,000 feet down to where the air is thick enough for people to breathe. Complicating issues, besides knowing you have 149 “souls” aboard, was that the hole caused by the missing engine created enormous drag as well as a reduced thrust needed to power through the situation.

And yet, the audio flight recordings reveal a cool, calm and collected Shults, determined to land her aircraft safely. Which she did.

Once on the ground, Captain Shults walked down the aisle personally greeting each and every passenger, ensuring they were safe.

She wore a bomber jacket.

THE U.S. NAVY is busting its buttons over the fact that Shults graduated from its ranks. Much to the chagrin of the Air Force, which back in the early 1980s showed no interest in her application. Shults, age 56, was one of the first female fighter pilots for the Navy. She left the Navy as a lieutenant commander.

As a little girl growing up in New Mexico near Holloman Air Force Base, Shults said she caught the flying bug from always looking up to the sky to watch the daily air shows.

As a senior in high school she attended a lecture on aviation but not before the instructor asked her if she were “lost.”

After Shults mustered the courage to say no, she was allowed to stay, but only after she was instructed she was wasting her time. There was no future for her as a professional pilot, the retired lieutenant colonel told her.

Every step of the way Shults had to fight to pursue her dreams. After the Air Force turned her down, the Navy waited a year to process her application for aviation candidate school.

Once accepted, she excelled, though even in there she was put in supportive roles.