Friday, January 8, 2021

Review: Tammie Jo Shults, Nerves of Steel

Tammie Jo Shults, Nerves of Steel: How I Followed My Dreams, Earned My Wings, and Faced My Greatest Challenge (Nashville, W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2019)


Nerves of Steel is a story about a smart, persistent woman penetrating a man’s world and becoming a Navy fighter pilot and later an airline captain who saved over 140 lives in a catastrophic in-flight explosion. What makes the story interesting is seeing how her upbringing in a happy family led Tammie Jo Bonnelle (later Captain Tammie Jo Shults) to acquire the discipline that shaped important decisions in her eventful life. The story begins in childhood on her family’s ranch and concludes dramatically with her piloting a barely controllable airliner to a safe landing after the explosion of an engine breached the side of her Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet. She shows how challenges and obstacles in her career also blessed her, training her to think and act wisely where prospects for a good outcome looked dim. Key to dealing with seemingly hopeless situations was the Christian faith she acquired as a girl in summer camp. This faith led her to trust God for the outcome and not rely solely on her (considerable) personal and professional skills. 


Note: Military and Aviation Terminology. Having served in the Air Force, I felt comfortable with the author’s occasional use of military and aviation terminology and acronyms. She was thoughtful to provide a “Quick Reference Guide for Military Terminology” in an appendix.  Like any reader, the military terminology guide “put me in the picture” when my military and aviation memory was faded or incomplete. When using specific aviation terms, she typically added a parenthetical explanation in the main text.