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Female pilots are a rarity at commercial airlines in the U.S.

Female pilots are rare, especially in the U.S.

When a Southwest Airlines LUV, -0.05% plane’s engine exploded mid-flight this week, pilot Tammie Jo Shults, 56, made an emergency landing. She is a former Navy pilot and one of the first women to fly an F/A-18 fighter jet.

Shults is an anomaly among airline pilots — and not just because she was able to stay calm in such extreme circumstances

Tammie Jo Shults, pictured left, was the pilot of Southwest Flight 1380 when an engine failed mid-air. She is being hailed as a hero for safely landing the plane.

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