2023 Gala Honoree – Tammie Jo Shults

Known for being one of the first female fighter pilots to serve in the United States Navy, following active duty she became a pilot for Southwest Airlines. She retired from Southwest Airlines in 2020.
Tammie started her career as a naval aviator as a flight instructor in T-2 Buckeye. She then trained and qualified to fly the A-7 Corsair II and joined VAQ-34, a Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron. This squadron was the first operational air squadron to be commanded by a woman, CAPT Rosemary Mariner.
In December 1995, she was promoted to lieutenant commander then transitioned to the Navy Reserve, where she flew the EA-6B Prowler and was one of the first women Naval Aviators to fly the F/A-18 Hornet. In August 2001, she retired from the Navy.
After leaving the Navy, Shults joined Southwest Airlines as a pilot, flying a part-time schedule of 8–10 days per month so that she could also raise a family following her marriage to fellow naval aviator Dean Shults.
On April 17, 2018, as captain of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, a Boeing 737-700 full of passengers, the aircraft suffered an explosive engine failure with debris causing severe damage and rapid decompression of the aircraft. The plane was in big trouble and did not want to continue flying. Tammie and her copilot were able to keep control of the jet and land it safely. If you would like to do further reading about Tammie Jo Shults, she has a terrific book out called Nerves of Steel.