The newsletter for friends of Angel Flight South Central
Board Member Couple Hits the Skies Angel Flight South Central is excited to introduce two of our newest Board Members, Dean and Tammie Jo Shults. They are certainly not strangers to the skies, with accomplished naval pilot careers and a combined 51 years with Southwest Airlines!
[Dean and Tammie Jo Shults] Growing up on the family farm in Tularosa, New Mexico gave Tammie Jo a daily airshow as Holloman Air Force Base was located only 30 miles away. “Our haybarn was the only large manmade structure for 100 miles so the Air Force used it as a navigational ground reference for dog fighting,” Tammie Jo shares. “They looked like they’re having an incredible time up there and I’m cleaning out stock trailers of organic fertilizer...maybe I’d like to look into that.” Tammie Jo’s naval career quickly began to soar as she marked off accomplishments such as being one of the first women in the Navy to qualify on an F/A-18 Hornet. She credits her mentor and Commanding Officer Rosemary Mariner, the first woman to command an operational air squadron, with helping her to navigate life during and well after the Navy.
[Tammie Jo and Dean Shults] Dean’s exposure to the aviation field came in high school when a member of his church in Sugarland, Texas took him up in a Cessna 182. His excellent grades as a finance major at Texas A&M earned some scholarship money which freed up his tuition funds to go towards private pilot lessons. While he enjoyed aviation, his path led him to enroll in seminary school in Dallas until a pivotal moment in his life - seeing the movie Top Gun.
The day after seeing the film, Dean drove to the nearest Naval Officer Recruiting center hours away in Houston. He also credits his Commanding Officer Tom Vaughn with being his aviation mentor although he did not share it with Tom at the time. They maintain contact to this day, with lots to talk about after Tom also eventually flew for Southwest Airlines. Upon finishing their naval careers two years apart, both Tammie Jo and Dean began their time with Southwest. The couple jokes that they often “leapfrogged” over each other in their aircraft, including both flying F-18s and eventually Boeing 737s.
[Dean and Tammie Jo on an Angel Flight mission to transport blood vials earlier this year] The couple has been fortunate to balance their busy family life by doing things like swapping flight assignments, including what turned out to be a historic day when Tammie Jo took Dean’s assignment on Southwest Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018. A routine flight from New York to Dallas turned dangerous when part of the left engine exploded and fragments damaged both the engine and fuselage of the 737. Tammie Jo’s extensive training and experience, along with her incredible crew, enabled her to land the aircraft safely in nearby Philadelphia. She was honored by Congress and visited the White House with other crew members where they were recognized for their heroic actions.
While Tammie Jo recently retired after 26 years with Southwest, Dean is going on 25 years with the company. Although they would occasionally hear “Angel Flight” over the airwaves, it wasn’t until Angel Flight West called Tammie Jo in 2019 to honor her at their annual gala that the couple began to look into the organization. “Part of the brilliance of [Angel Flight] is, it’s goodness, because it is just relying on the goodness of people towards other people.” [Tammie Jo, Wayne Maynard, and Angel Flight South Central Executive Director Elizabeth Hancy]
Shortly afterward, Board Chairperson Wayne Maynard called the Shultses to invite them to become board members at Angel Flight South Central. The couple is hopeful that their connections in the aviation industry will prove beneficial to gaining exposure and bringing both new pilots and patients to the organization. Tammie Jo recognizes the difference that traveling with Angel Flight can make for a patient, stating “Flying [general aviation] is like a time machine compared to even commercial aviation. Having that extra night at home, not spending a whole day in travel, makes a huge difference. It’s life changing in some ways.” Dean has jumped right into being an Angel Flight pilot while Tammie Jo plans to complete her certifications in the coming days. Their Piper Malibu provides a comfortable ride for patients with its large cabin and accessible entry. They have already found that when they walk away from a mission, whether delivering a passenger or blood samples, that they feel as though they have received much more from the experience than they have given. They are happy to be part of a “great reason to start your engines and get airborne.”
[Tammie Jo, Passenger Felicia, and Dean on a mission from San Antonio to Corpus Christi]
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ON THE BEAM! Top Pilots October 8 Missions - David Aldridge 7 Missions - Rob Garrett 6 Missions - Leonard Koglin 5 Missions - Scott Young, Jed Molleston, Scott Gloyna, Joel Mack 4 Missions - David Prentice, Jamie Matthews, Riaz Siddiqi 1st Mission Flown in October Tom Currie Mark Blair Jose Ceballos Alvarez de Lugo James McDonald Milestones for October 5th Mission - Bradley Yates, Michael Periard, Robert Latham, James Jefferies, Grant Rudolph, Victor Tore 50th Mission - Paul Siedschlag, Jamie Matthews 150th Mission - Rob Garrett