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18th Apr 2018

Listen to conversation between pilot and air traffic control after woman sucked out of plane

'There's a hole and someone went out'

Oli Dugmore

The heroic pilot has been praised for her ‘nerves of steel’

A woman has died after she was partially sucked through an airplane window.

Shrapnel from the Boeing 737’s exploded port engine shattered a window next to Jennifer Riordan who was then sucked out – “from her waist above, she was outside the plane,” one passenger said.

CPR-trained passengers scrambled to help Riordan, who was rushed to hospital after the plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia. She later died of her injuries. Another seven people suffered minor injuries.

In an audio recording of the exchange between air traffic controllers and the jet, a crew member is heard to say the plane needs to slow down and reports that there is a hole in the plane and “someone went out.”

Pilot Tammie Jo Shults has been praised for her extraordinary bravery and composure during the incident. Pictures and a Facebook Live taken by one passenger show scenes of chaos inside the plane, as its oxygen masks dropped into the depressurised cabin.

However, an audio recording of the conversation between Tammie Jo and air traffic control demonstrates her nerves of steel.

Ms Shults calmly said: “So we have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.”

Asked if the plane was on fire, she said: “Not on fire but part of it is missing. They said there’s a hole and someone went out. Could you have the medical meet us there on the runway as well. We’ve got injured passengers.”

The 56-year-old was one of the first female fighter pilots in the US navy, where she handled F-18 jets later used in the Gulf War and Iraq War.

In a forum post dating back to 2006 on fighter jet community site, Ms Shults is discussed.

“Shults became one of the first female fighter pilots in the history of the US navy and one of the first women to fly F-18s,” the forum post reads.

“She landed her fighter plane on boats at 150mph and eventually became an instructor. Although she wasn’t allowed to fly in combat, she did fly as an aggressor pilot.”