This week, after a Southwest Airlines plane’s engine blew out, Captain Tammie Jo Shults was forced to make an emergency landing.
Just a few hours after landing the plane safely in Philly with a single engine, a shattered window and a cabin filled with traumatized passengers, Shults sent out her first text: “God is good,” she messaged her friend and fellow veteran Navy combat aviator, Linda Maloney, according to Fox News.
When Maloney heard that it was her friend who landed Southwest flight 1380, she quickly shot her a text that said, “News travels fast. Praying for you.”
Shults replied: “Thanks. God is good.”
Both women have had long careers with the Navy. In 1985, Shults was commissioned into the Navy and successfully reached the rank of lieutenant commander, according to Commander Ron Flanders, the spokesman for the Naval Air Force in San Diego.
“We became fast friends,” Maloney said of her friendship with Shults. “We had a small group of girlfriends who were all aviators. When there are very few women, you tend to form strong relationships.”
Their friendship spans decades, and Shults is even featured in Maloney’s book, “Military Fly Moms.” The book includes stories and photos that detail the lives of 69 women that are U.S. military veterans.
Maloney hopes that more people, especially women, will be inspired to pursue aviation careers after hearing her friend’s heroic story.
Shults and her co-pilot, First Officer Darren Ellisor, have insisted that their actions were not heroic, and that they were simply doing their jobs when disaster struck earlier this week.
“On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss,” the two pilots said in the statement, referring to passenger Jennifer Riordan, who became the sole fatality in Tuesday’s crash. The pilots added that their “hearts are heavy” for Riordan’s family .
Shults and Ellisor have decided not to take any public interviews, and “ask that the public and the media respect our focus.”
Passengers that have been interviewed commended both Shults’ precision with landing, as well as her calm kindness amid the chaos. Several recalled how Shults walked down the aisle of the plane to make sure each passenger was okay after the plane landed.
One passenger recalled receiving a hug from the pilot.
“I specifically said to her, ‘Do I get a hug too?’” Benjamin Goldstein said, according to Fox. “She said, ‘Of course. I wouldn’t let you by without a hug.’”
During a news conference Wednesday, Robert Sumwalt, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, also commended the Shults’ efforts.
He said the pilots “seemed very calm and assured of what they were doing,” adding that they “behaved in a manner that their training would prepare them for.”
“My hat is off to them,” Sumwalt said.
(H/T: Fox News)