Twenty minutes after takeoff from La Guardia, the Southwest passengers heard several explosions and watched as debris fell from the port engine.
Adding to the incident, the falling debris broke a window; the woman seated next to it started to get sucked through it. The plane pitched to a roll of 41 degrees. Passenger airlines rarely go beyond 25 degrees.
As passengers rushed to save the passenger, Tammie Jo Shults, one of the first female Naval fighter pilots, reacted with “nerves of steel”, calmly and quickly addressing the situation. She was able to level the plane and maneuver and safely land it at the Philadelphia International Airport.
Unfortunately, despite being pulled back in side the plane, the female passenger next to the window sustained injuries leading to her death. A few other passengers sustained minor injuries.
Engineers are uncertain as to how and why the window broke; no acrylic was found inside the plane.
After everyone deplaned, Shults greeted each passenger.
No media interviews will be given.