Pop quiz: what’s the safest form of travel? Is it trains, automobiles, bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles, maybe even hot air balloons?

Well, believe it or not, air travel is actually the safest – and most efficient! – way to get from point A to point B. Convenient and relatively risk-free? No wonder why it costs a small fortune to purchase a cross-country flight these days!

Having said that, if an airplane or a pilot does end up encountering a problem mid-flight, the odds of injuries and fatalities are much higher than the trends seen in the other travel options.

It’s a fascinating truth that, frankly, scares a heck of a lot of people out of flying in the first place— and we get it, too! Airplanes might be, generally, very safe, but if that flying machine fails, then things certainly aren’t good for anyone involved. For this very reason, we were so impressed to hear the story of doomed Southwest flight 1380.

This past Tuesday, the flight, which departed from New York and was headed to Dallas, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia when one of the aircraft’s engines reportedly “exploded” in mid-air. Sadly, some of the shrapnel that came from the engine flew back towards the Boeing 737, breaking a passenger’s window in the process.

According to information released by the airline, the woman who was seated by this shattered window was 43-year-old Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and a Wells Fargo vice president from New Mexico. Unfortunately, the force of the wind from the open window sucked her partially outside the plane. Fellow passengers did their best to rescue her and were, in fact, able to get her back inside the aircraft, but the blunt force trauma she sustained was too damaging to save her life.

Seven other passengers sustained non-life threatening injuries during the event, but luckily, the rest of the 149 passengers and crew members were able to walk off the plane unscathed. Many of these very passengers are singing the praises of seasoned pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, for her “nerves of steel” during the emergency landing.

In a truly incredible mayday recording, the pilot calmly speaks to an air traffic controller as she prepares for the emergency landing in Philadelphia. “We have part of our aircraft missing, so we need to slow down a bit,” Shults can be heard saying. “Could you have medical meet us on the runway, as well? We’ve got injured passengers,” she added.

In an interview with NBC News, passenger Peggy Phillips described the pilot as a “hero” and called the safe landing “nothing short of a miracle.”

We completely agree! It’s so heartbreaking to hear of Jennifer Riordan’s tragic death, but it’s clear that this is a situation that could have been much worse. To learn more details about the flight and the ongoing investigation that’s surrounding it, be sure to watch the video below.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Southwest flight 1380. Were you surprised to hear that the casualty rate was so low? Have you ever experienced an emergency landing before? If so, what was it like?