Hero pilot who landed Southwest plane visits White House
(CNN) — President Donald Trump will welcome hero pilot Tammie Jo Shults and other crewmembers and passengers from Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 to the Oval Office Tuesday, recognizing the work of those in the cabin and the cockpit following catastrophic engine failure.
“He (Trump) will thank the crewmembers who safely landed the damaged flight, and meet with the passengers who heroically assisted their fellow passengers,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.
After the Dallas-bound flight left New York’s LaGuardia airport on April 17, a fan blade in the left engine broke midair, sending the titanium alloy blade toward the body of the plane. The object burst through the plane’s window, sucking a passenger toward the hole where the window used to be.
Passengers Andrew Needum, a firefighter, and Tim McGinty, who works in farm and ranch real estate, rushed toward row 14, working together to pull the passenger, Jennifer Riordan, back in from the broken plane window as the plane began to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia, witnesses said. Needum and another passenger, retired nurse Peggy Phillips, began performing CPR. Riordan later died at a Philadelphia hospital.
McGinty, Needum and Phillips will be in attendance at the White House Tuesday.
“I’m trained for emergency situations and that’s just exactly what it was, and I felt moved to act as well as other people on that plane,” Needum said at a news conference last month.
“God created a servant heart in me, and I felt a calling to get up and do something,” he added.
Captain Shults has been widely regarded as a hero for her calm handling of the emergency landing. Passengers said that Shults walked through the aisle and talked with them to make sure they were all right.
The former Navy fighter pilot has kept a low profile, eschewing media requests but issuing a statement alongside first officer Darren Ellisor, who will also be in attendance Tuesday.
“We all feel we were simply doing our jobs,” Shults and Ellisor said in a statement posted on the airline’s social media pages. “Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss.”
Flight attendants Rachel Fernheimer, Seanique Mallory and Kathryn Sandoval will also be honored in the Oval Office.