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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Who is the Bravest of Them All? Tammy Jo Schults

Tammie Jo Shults is photographed in the early 1990s. (Courtesy Linda Maloney)

Tammie Jo Schults, a former Navy pilot, who landed a Southwest Airlines plane yesterday after losing all but one engine, and saved all but one passenger.

I have always admired women who go into professions dominated by men and where in many cases they are considered intruders who are not smart enough, or worse strong enough, to do the same job as men can. My generation broke down many barriers but it is those who came after us that are awesome.

Tammie Jo is a hero to all of us. She lived near an airport and spent much of her childhood watching planes fly overhead and wanting to fly them. In high school, she went to a meeting about becoming a military pilot and was asked if she had the wrong classroom.

A couple of branches of the military would not take her as a female pilot trainee but the Navy (not exactly a bastion of sexual liberation), did. Flash forward more than a decade later and the mother of two, and wife of another pilot, was flying a plane whose engine had exploded, there was a huge risk of fire, and part of it was missing. One passenger had been killed and seven others were injured.

She had to land that plane

Her mother said Tammie Jo is a very calming person, and she had the plane and passengers with her as she crash landed at the Philadelphia airport.

A college friend Cindy Foster told the Kansas City Star that Tammie never listened to the naysayers. "She said she wasn't going to let anyone tell her she couldn't"


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