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The heroic pilot 'with nerves of steel', who calmly landed a Southwest Airlines flight after a mid-air explosion killed a woman by half sucking her out of a plane window, hugged traumatized passengers after making a seamless emergency landing on Tuesday.
Tammie Jo Shults, a former Navy fighter pilot and one of the first women to fly an F-18, quickly brought the Dallas-bound Southwest Flight 1380 to land at Philadelphia International at 11.30am after the explosion at 32,000ft
It was after Jennifer Riordan, a mother-of-two from Albuquerque, who was killed after she was nearly drawn out of the window when it smashed in a midair explosion, and had to be pulled back into her seat by other passengers.
Once the plane had landed and Riordan had been rushed off to hospital, Shults got out of the cockpit to comfort the other passengers on board.
Pilot Tammie Jo Shults is pictured hugging passengers after making an emergency landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday after one of the engines on the Southwest Airlines jet she was flying exploded and a passenger was partially sucked out of a shattered window
Pilot Shults, a former Navy pilot, was calm as she called air traffic control to tell them she was making an emergency landing. Once the plane was on the tarmac, Shults spoke to all of the passengers to comfort them
A harrowing photograph taken in the air shows the exposed, mangled engine after it exploded. The pilot flew like this for 12 minutes until she made her emergency landing
'Tammie Jo Shults, the pilot came back to speak to each of us personally,' Diana McBride Self wrote. 'This is a true American Hero.
'A huge thank you for her knowledge, guidance and bravery in a traumatic situation. God bless her and all the crew.'
Fellow passenger Alfred Tumlinson from Corpus Christi echoed her praise.
'She has nerves of steel. That lady, I applaud her.
'I'm going to send her a Christmas card, I'm going to tell you that, with a gift certificate for getting me on the ground.
'She was awesome.'
Amanda Bourman gave similar praise.
'The pilot, Tammie Jo was so amazing! She landed us safely in Philly.
'God sent his angels to watch over us. I actually heard someone say, there is a God!' she said on Instagram once the flight landed. Despite the crisis on board, Shults was calm as she told Air Traffic Control: 'So we have a part of the aircraft missing.'
Asked if the plane was on fire, she said: 'No, it's not on fire but part of it's missing.
'They said there is a hole and someone went out.' She added that 'we have injured passengers' as she requested medical staff to meet them on landing. Passengers say that after landing the plane, the pilot took the time to speak to all those aboard personally.
Peggy Phillips, a retired nurse who tried to save Riordan's life with CPR, said the pilot was 'awesome'.
'I am so proud of my fellow passengers and the flight crew and the pilot. They did an awesome job,' she said.
Tammie Jo Shults (pictured left, and right on the aircraft with the rest of the crew), a former Navy fighter pilot and the first woman to fly an F-18, quickly brought the Dallas-bound Southwest Flight 1380 to land at Philadelphia International at 11.30am after the explosion at 32,000ft.
Shults was one of the first female fighter pilots in the US Navy and first to fly an F-18. She later became an instructor, as the Navy did not allow women to fly in combat, and she finally resigned in 1993 when she joined Southwest Airlines.
She is a devout Christian who said previously in a blog that sitting in the cockpit gives her 'the opportunity to witness for Christ on almost every flight.'
A mother-of-two, originally from New Mexico, Shults now lives with her husband Dean, a fellow pilot, in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas.
Twelve people were injured in the midair explosion, with seven treated at the scene for minor injuries, while the woman who was sucked out the plane, was immediately taken to hospital
The Boeing 737-700, which took off from New York's La Guardia Airport for Dallas was traveling at 32,500ft when the engine on the left side of the plane exploded.
Passengers said they heard a loud 'boom' and the plane immediately dropped, they said, by what felt like 100ft. Riordan was sitting next to the smashed window was drawn towards it and others next to her held her down for 12 minutes until the plane landed.
Investigators examining the damaged engine of Southwest Airlines flight 1380 after it exploded in flight sending shrapnel into the fuselage, breaking a window and causing the plane to make an emergency landing
A U.S. NTSB investigator is on scene examining damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane in this image released from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This was the row of seats where the window was shattered. According to witnesses, passengers had to pull the woman back into the aircraft when she was sucked towards the window and some of her body was drawn through it
This is the window which was shattered by a piece of shrapnel from an exploding engine on a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday morning. Witnesses said the female passenger sitting next to it was partially sucked out of the aircraft through the whole and had to be held down
This was the view from on board the Southwest Airlines flight of the blown-out engine after the plane made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport. A piece of shrapnel from it flew backwards and shattered the window
Riordan (pictured with her husband) was rushed to hospital immediately after the flight from New York to Dallas made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at 11.27am, but authorities confirmed she later died
A female passenger was partially sucked out the window of a Southwest Airlines plane and had to be pulled back inside after the aircraft was shattered by shrapnel from an exploding engine, it has been claimed.
The Boeing 737-700 had not long departed from LaGuardia Airport in New York City and was on its way to Dallas when the left engine exploded and shrapnel flew towards the window.
It was flying over western Pennsylvania with 143 passengers and five members of crew on board when the left engine suddenly exploded at 32,000ft.
The female pilot immediately diverted its course and flew towards Philadelphia to make an emergency landing. It arrived at 11.30am, around 10 minutes after the engine exploded.
According to other passengers on the plane, the shrapnel smashed a window next to a female passenger who was 'partially sucked through it' as the aircraft made its descent.
'One passenger, a woman, was partially drawn out towards the out of the plane, she was pulled back in by other passengers,' Todd Bauer, the father of another passenger on board, told NBC 10.
The woman was taken to hospital and the extent of her injuries is not known but witnesses said there was 'blood everywhere'.
A nurse and an EMT who were also passengers helped her until the plane landed and she was taken to hospital.
Terrified passengers shared videos and photos from on board before the plane landed as they descended at 3,000ft per minute until they reached a 1,000ft.
One filmed himself as he fitted his oxygen mask. 'Something is wrong with our plane! It appears we are going down!
'Emergency landing!! Southwest flight from NYC to Dallas!!' Marty Martinez said as he broadcast live from the plane on Facebook.
He is the passenger who later said the woman's injuries left 'blood everywhere.' There were confused reports from other passengers that someone on board suffered a heart attack.
The first sign of trouble was a loud noise which happened when the engine exploded.
Timothy Bourman, 37, was sitting at the back of the plane when he said he heard a loud 'boom'.
'All the sudden, it felt like we dropped 100 feet. Everybody knew something’s going on.
"This is bad, like really bad." A lot of people started panicking and yelling, just real scared.
'We were kind of out of control for a while. It seemed like the pilot was having a hard time controlling the plane. Honestly I think we just all thought we were going down,' he told Philly.com.
Bourman, who was traveling with his wife, said they thought they were about to die until the pilot managed to gain control of the aircraft.
'We’re just all really thankful to be alive right now. Thankful to God, thankful to that pilot,' he added.
Matt Tranchin was sitting three rows behind the window that smashed.
He described the chaos and said even the flight attendants were crying in fear.
'Flight attendants rushed up. There was momentary chaos. Everyone kind of descended on where this hole was. As passengers we weren't sure if they were trying to cover up the hole, but the plane smelled like smoke.
'There was ash coming through the ventilation system. We started dropping,' he told ABC News.
'As kind of an indication of how terrifying it was, some of the crew couldn't hold back their horror.
'And some were crying as they looked out through the open window onto the engine,' he added.
As the plane made its descent towards Philadelphia, the crew warned passengers to brace for impact.
Southwest Airlines has not acknowledged the woman's injuries.
In a statement it put out on Twitter, the airline said: 'Southwest Airlines flight 1380, which departed LaGuardia for Dallas Love Field , diverted to PHL because of an operational event.
'The plane landed safely. No slides were deployed.'
It has given no further comment on the injured woman or what caused the engine to explode.
When the shrapnel pierced the window, it depressurized the cabin and triggered the oxygen masks. Despite the chaos in the air, others said the emergency landing was fairly calm and smooth.
The plane was on its way from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Dallas when it diverted in the air and turned back on itself to go to Philadelphia. It was flying over western Pennsylvania at around 32,000ft at the time
The faulty engine was almost entirely exposed after the plane had landed
One passenger told CNN: 'It was a stable landing. We started descending, made the turn back to Philadelphia.
'We were with one engine for maybe 10 minutes.
'We decreased altitude from 8,000 to 5,000 and then when we finally landed it was relatively smooth, kind of a typical landing so the crew and the pilots did a fantastic job.'
Passengers were taken from buses to the airport. It is not the first time the malfunction has occurred on a Southwest-operated Boeing 737-700.
In August last year, a different flight from New Orleans to Orlando was forced to make an emergency landing at Pensacola Airport in Florida after the casing surrounding one of its engines tore away at a similar altitude.
On Tuesday, the airline manufacturer said it was aware of the accident and was prepared to cooperate with investigations.
'Boeing is aware of an incident with Southwest Airlines flight #1380.
'We are gathering more information and stand ready to provide technical assistance,' it tweeted.
The engine which exploded is a CFM56 turbofan engine which costs $10million and has a fan diameter of 68 inches.
The engines are the most popular engines on single aisle commercial planes and are used by all of Airbus A320 aircraft