Tammy Jo Shults proved she was a hero when she successfully landed the crippled Southwest airliner after a passenger was nearly sucked out of a window, but many are also crediting her calm and collected radio call to air traffic control for saving 148 lives.
During the dispatch to the control tower, the former fighter pilot could be heard calmly describing the emergency to the dispatcher.
“Could you have the medical team meet us there on the runway?" Shults asks. "We’ve got injured passengers."
"Injured passengers, okay,” the dispatcher responds. “And are you — is your airplane physically on fire?”
"No, it's not on fire, but part of it's missing," Shults says. "They said there's a hole and someone went out."
In disbelief, the dispatcher responds: "I'm sorry, you said there was a hole and somebody went out?"
After bringing the flight to a safe landing, Shults greeted each of her passengers and many embraced her in gratitude for saving their lives.
"Nerves of steel," one passenger said.
Her demeanor is reminiscent of Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger, the hero from 2009's "Miracle on the Hudson" in January 2009, when a US Airways flight landed in the Hudson River off midtown Manhattan.
Shults lives outside San Antonio with her husband, who is also a pilot.
When reached by The Washington Post, Shults' mother-in-law didn't seem the least bit surprised at Tuesday's development.
"That is Tammie Jo," Virginia Shults told the paper.
Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, N.M., it's a day of mourning for the passenger who died after nearly getting sucked out of the window.
43-year-old Jennifer Riordan was a respected Wells Fargo executive who was flying home after a business trip to New York City.
The mother-of-two, married to a former city official, was sitting in the 17th row window seat when the engine exploded.
Schrapnel blew her out the window and she was yanked out of her seat and partially sucked out.
Fellow passenger Peggy Phillips told InsideEdition.com that she witnessed others on the flight frantically grabbing her and pulling her back in.
"The seat belt was the only thing that was keeping her in the plane," said Phillips, who was sitting two rows ahead. "He's a very large guy, [he said,] 'I tried really hard to pull her in myself. I wasn't able to the suction was too great.'] [Two passengers] together were able to get her back into the plane and then we started the CPR."
Riordan's grieving family said of her: "Her impact on everyone she touched can never be fully measured. But foremost, she is the bedrock of our family."