“Don’t Let an Offense Get in the Way of an Opportunity”: An Interview with Navy Pilot Tammie Jo Shults

Female fighter pilot standing outside jet in uniform while holding helmet under arm

I had the privilege of sitting down with author and pilot Tammie Jo Shults to talk about her career in the Navy as one of the first female F-18 pilots.

She is also the heroic pilot of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 who saved 148 lives when she successfully landed the severely crippled plane. 

“Tammie Jo’s path eventually led her to join the Navy, where she became one of the first women to fly the F/A-18 Hornet. Her specialized flight training in fighter aircraft honed her skills to a razor’s edge. After eight years, she left the military, flew for the forest service in California fighting forest fires for a season, and then went to work for Southwest Airlines flying Boeing 737s.

On April 17, 2018, Tammie Jo was called to service once again. Twenty minutes into a routine domestic flight, Captain Shults was faced with the unthinkable—a catastrophic engine failure in the Boeing 737 caused an explosion that punctured hydraulic lines and severed fuel lines, tearing away sections of the plane, puncturing a window, and taking a woman’s life. Captain Shults and her first officer, Darren Ellisor, struggled to stabilize the aircraft.

Drawing deeply from her well of experience, Tammie Jo was able to wrestle the severely damaged 737 safely to the ground. Not originally scheduled for that flight, there is no doubt God had prepared her and placed her right where she needed to be that day” (quote source)

In the following interview we discussed how she came to love aviation, join the military, and the advice she offers to other women and girls who are dreaming of a career in aviation.

You can watch our interview below! 

Want to know more?

Check out these links for more information on her story, her book, and her legacy. 



Click here to read more amazing stories from women in military aviation who are paving the way for the next generation!

Previous article“Building Runways” – 8 Women in Military Aviation to Inspire the Next Generation
Next articleWelcome to The Military Mom Collective
Amie Glazier
Originally from Denver, Amie enjoyed a break from cold winters while stationed in various southern locales with her husband, who is a pilot in the Navy. But they currently live outside Seattle, and she is now learning to love the rain. Amie and her husband have four small children who eat dinosaur chicken nuggets like they're going extinct and love all things aviation. After graduating with her B.A. in English, Amie worked in various fields with each military move, but never stopped writing. She has been a contributor for The Military Mom Collective since it was founded and finds joy in helping other moms connect in community. When she’s not writing or herding her adorable brood, you can find Amie working out at the local cross fit gym, binge-watching Hallmark movies, and actually enjoying chemistry while home-brewing with her husband. Amie is proud to be co-owner and Director of Partnerships for MilMC to help military families connect worldwide. You can contact Amie at info {at} militarymomcollective {dot} com and follow her journey on Instagram @mrs.amielou