Southwest Airlines pilot lauded as a ‘trailblazer’ for women

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The Southwestern Airlines pilot who successfully landed her plane after one of the engines broke off is being called a “trailblazer” for women pilots.

Capt. Tammie Jo Shults served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years and was the first women to fly an FA-18 Hornet fighter jet.

Women military pilots today say that Shults paved the way for them in their careers.

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“When you listen to her on the [Southwest] tapes, it was fantastic to hear how calm and collected she was,” says Lt. Col. Michele LoBianco.

LoBianco is a fighter pilot currently based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. She says that Shults in part inspired her to join the Air Force.

“It wasn’t a matter of if I could do it, it was when I can do it,” LoBianco says.

Shults is now being compared to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the Miracle on the Hudson pilot, for how she was able to land her plane when it dropped from 31,000 feet to 10,000 feet in just about five minutes. There was only one fatality.

“She and a bunch of other women were able to blaze that trail for us,” LoBianco says. “To the point that it is 100 percent normalized now and we don't look at it as it’s male or female."

The U.S. Department of Defense says that of the over 12,000 pilots in the Air Force, 730 are women.

Go HERE for an extended interview with LoBianco.

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