Southwest 'hero' pilot was one of US Navy's first female fighter pilots

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At least one bought in-flight Wi-Fi as the jet descended so he could say goodbye to his loved ones.

Throughout the emergency, Shults' communications remained clear and direct as she diverted the plane to Philadelphia, worked out an approach plan with ATC and made sure emergency vehicles and medical transport were standing by.

The plane from NY to Dallas landed in Philadelphia.

Something in the engine broke apart midair and burst through the Boeing 737-700's window, passengers said.

Passengers say Riordan was partially sucked out of the window after the plane was hit by engine debris.

Steven Marks, an aviation lawyer with Podhurst Orseck, said the 737 has been a safe plane and the incident shouldn't alarm airline passengers generally.

A man in a cowboy hat, rancher Tim McGinty of Hillsboro, Texas, tore his mask off and struggled to pull the woman in.


Peggy Phillips spoke to WFAA-TV upon her arrival in Dallas Tuesday night. She applied CPR for 20 minutes, but Riordan could not be saved. The pressure was so great it thrust passenger Jennifer Riordan, a Wells Fargo banking executive and mother of two, half way out the plane, witnesses said. "And are you - is your airplane physically on fire?"

In a late night news conference Tuesday, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said one of the engine's fan blades was separated and missing.

"The pilot, Tammy (sic) Jo was so fantastic!" wrote passenger Amanda Bourman on Instagram next to a picture of the ruptured engine on the tarmac.

"So we have a part of the aircraft missing so we're going to need to slow down a bit", Shults told a controller. "They said there's a hole and that someone went out", she said.

Some passengers took to social media to say their goodbyes to friends and family.

Martinez chose to buy in-flight Wi-Fi service. Seven other passengers were treated for injuries. Now, back home, people who were close to Riordan are coming together to honor her life. "Do I text my mom, do I text my dad, my brother, my sister?" he said.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time we have lost a window", Kelly said.


As the plane descended steeply but steadily toward Philadelphia, the cabin was noisy from the open window, but the passengers were mostly quiet, maybe because they had their masks on, said passenger Amanda Bourman, of NY. "We're going to do this!'" Bourman said. "We landed while we were still doing CPR and you know, I have to just take my hats off to everyone".

For Kristopher Johnson, a single thought flooded his mind: his wife and 13-month-old son Jakob. "I thought, hot damn, that might be the coolest woman I have ever seen". "That was the first thing that rushed through my head". Everybody was good. I think it was too early in the morning.

"She and Michael were two peas in a pod", she said of the couple that met in Vermont.

Eric Zilbert, an administrator with the California Education Department, said even the children "did very well".

Another passenger, Diana McBride Self, thanked Shults on Facebook for her "guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation". She learned to fly as one of the first female fighter pilots in the navy three decades ago, piloting the F/A-18 Hornet in an era when women were barred from combat missions. "Then we shook", Madison said the next day, safely home in NY after deciding to skip the Texas trip.

Numerous 144 passengers sang her praise on social media after Shults thanked them for their bravery as they left the plane.

"We are deeply saddened to confirm that there is one fatality resulting from this accident", the airline said.


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