Hero Pilot of Southwest Airlines Flight #1380 Shares Her Advice for Staying Grounded

You know that feeling when you go to use an electronic device and you’re greeted with that red or flashing battery symbol? It’s frustrating to not have something operating at the level that we need it to be operating…and yet, we are often guilty of expecting ourselves to function at a full-charge level while our internal battery is flashing red.

We asked Captain Tammie Jo Shults, the hero Southwest Airlines pilot who saved the lives of 148 people in April 2018 by successfully landing their Boeing 737 after catastrophic engine failure and rapid decompression, to share how she stays grounded, refreshed, and not running on empty.

Tammie Jo will also be the 7th annual keynote speaker at the 2022 4word Gala! To secure your tickets now, just click here.

Don’t have time to read this blog? Listen to it below!

As someone with remarkable drive, have you been mindful of making time for genuine rest in your life?

I start my day with Scripture, a cup of tea and some quiet time with the Lord through prayer without me doing all the talking. Exercise is important for me and when I get that in my day, pray on my knees before I get into bed, I’m ready to leave the day spent at the Lord’s feet and the day to come. Sleep happily follows (unless I’m keeping Liam our grandson…but that is sleep well “lost”).

Work/life integration is a topic we are incredibly passionate about at 4word. Do you feel like you’ve had a good balance between work and life while building your aviation career?

I never thought about building my career; I just did the next thing in front of me. My family was my priority, and while they made sacrifices, my mom (a stay-at-home rancher’s wife) reminded me that every family, every mom, makes sacrifices—just make sure they are balanced. What we choose to make a priority is what gets done.

Another topic we’re dedicated to at 4word is the importance of mentorship. Did you have any mentors in your life that helped you achieve whole-self balance? If you did, what advice did you take away from their mentorship?

My first mentors were my parents. They were great examples of servant leadership. They had a wonderful way of combining work and laughter. They also always assigned authority with responsibility which, even as a kid, made us feel invested in the farm/ranch project. Even mucking out stock trailers became important work in our eyes.

What are some ways that you recharge every area of your life? (Professional, personal, and spiritual)

Quiet time in the morning, a good workout, and not watching the news but reading it. Time with family; they are life’s blood for my happiness. Then friends, the kind that lift you up when you need lifting and rejoice with you when you need to celebrate! And hard work, challenges that stretch me. I think there is a joy in work—an addictive thrill to problem solving—and I need it. I think God built that joy and the need for some adventure into all our lives.

Any final thoughts you’d like to leave readers with?

There are so many things that press in to take our attention and time. I find turning off electronics helpful in opening up time for the most important things in life.

Captain Tammie Jo Shults is a Southwest Airlines captain and former naval aviator who received wide acclaim when, on April 17, 2018, she and her crew successfully landed a Boeing 737 after catastrophic engine failure and rapid decompression, saving the lives of 148 people. Shults’ early interest in flying led her to become one of the first female F/A-18 Hornet pilots in the United States Navy after overcoming several obstacles due to her gender. At the conclusion of her Navy career, Shults became a pilot for Southwest Airlines. Her incredible talent and notable history have made her an inspiration to many.