The Brave Texas Woman Behind Southwest Airlines Flight 1380's Miraculous Landing

Gov. John Sanchez speaking at a memorial service for the Albuquerque woman who died after an in-flight accident on a Southwest Airlines plane described Jennifer Riordan as a "pillar of the community". Debris from the engine blew out a window causing the woman, Jennifer Riordan, to nearly get sucked out of the plane.

Authorities said Riordan was fatally injured when she was sucked partway through the window, sending passengers scrambling to help her as the aircraft shook violently and went into a rapid descent.

Mr Needum, a Texas firefighter, said he heard commotion behind him and his wife nodded it was OK to leave her and try to save Ms Riordan.

Andrew Needum (left) and Tim McGinty (right). "I felt moved to act, as well as other people on that plane", Needum said.

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About 20 minutes after the flight departed from NY, passengers say they heard what sounded like explosions. Ms Mackey said she and the child tried but failed to bring the bank executive back in.

The plane was pitched at an angle of more than 40 degrees for a few unnerving seconds before it leveled out and began an emergency descent, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Shults' swift response won't likely surprise those who served with her when she joined the Navy in 1985, two years after earning her bachelor's degree in biology and agribusiness from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas.

Shults is a deeply devout and outspoken "Christian woman" who sought to "witness Christ" through her work. She says she was thrilled to see a woman pilot celebrated as a hero, even though the circumstances were tragic.

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"No, it's not on fire, but part of it's missing", Shults said, pausing for a moment.

'All we knew we could do was stay with her and get her home, ' she said.

It was not an explosion, he said, likening it more to a car's combustion engine throwing a rod, which bangs around the engine.

They also said she embraced those experiences to make her stronger and guide her into a role as a mentor to young female pilots or girls thinking about a military career.

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Captain Shults calmly relayed details about the crisis to air traffic controllers, and passengers commended her handling of the situation. "She was very good".

  • Theresa Obrien