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Southwest Airlines Pilot Praised for Her 'Nerves of Steel'


In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, Lt. Tammie Jo Shults, one of the first women to fly Navy tactical aircraft, poses in front of an F/A-18A with Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 34 in 1992. Shults was the pilot of the Southwest plane that made an emergency landing on April 17, 2018, after an engine explosion. (Thomas P. Milne/U.S. Navy via AP)
Southwest Airlines Pilot Praised for Her 'Nerves of Steel'
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This is What’s Trending Today…

An American pilot who made an emergency landing Tuesday after the plane lost an engine is being praised for her “nerves of steel.”

The pilot, Tammie Jo Schults, was flying a Southwest Airlines plane from New York City to Dallas, Texas, when the engine blew and broke apart. She landed the plane safely in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sharp pieces of the engine struck and broke one of the plane’s windows. One passenger died after being partly sucked out of the plane. That passenger, Jennifer Riordan, was sitting next to the window that broke.

Seven other people were hurt.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport, April 17, 2018. The engine blew at 32,000 feet.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport, April 17, 2018. The engine blew at 32,000 feet.

Schults, who is 56 years old, took the plane into a fast descent. Passengers used oxygen masks and prepared for the force of landing.

Schults’ clear thinking during a high-pressure situation helped save many lives.

Schults is familiar with high-pressure situations. She got her first flying experience in the United States Navy, touching down fighter planes at speeds of 240 kilometers per hour.

She was one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy.

As the Reuters news agency reports, Schults wanted to become a pilot from a young age. In a story on the fighter plane blog F-16.net, she said she tried to attend an aviation career day at her high school. But she was told they did not accept girls.

After serving in the Navy, Schuts joined Southwest Airlines as a pilot. She started working there in 1993.

On Tuesday, Schults calmly told air traffic control that part of her plane was missing, and that she would need emergency workers on the ground after she landed.

Passengers praised Schults for being calm and caring in an extremely difficult situation.

One passenger, Diana McBride Self, wrote on Facebook, “Tammie Jo Schults, the pilot came back to speak to each of us personally. This is a true American Hero...A huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery...”

Another passenger, Alfred Tumlinson, thanked Shults and her crew. He told the Associated Press, “She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her. I’m going to send her a Christmas card...for getting me on the ground. She was awesome.”

And that’s What’s Trending Today….

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Ashley Thompson adapted this story for Learning English based on reports by the Associated Press and Reuters. Hai Do was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

suck - v. to pull (something) with the force of moving water, air, etc.

descent ​- n. ​the act or process of going from a higher to a lower place or level​

aviation - n. the business or practice of flying airplanes, helicopters, etc.​

applaud ​- v. ​ to express approval of or support for (something or someone)​

awesome - adj. extremely good

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