Southwest passengers prepare for the worst after blown engine, smashed window: Part 3

Passengers say they knew in their hearts that Jennifer Riordan, who was pulled halfway through the broken window when it shattered, hadn't survived but had to keep trying to save her.
7:12 | 05/12/18

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Transcript for Southwest passengers prepare for the worst after blown engine, smashed window: Part 3
Reporter: With a blown engine, a smashed window, and a depressurized cabin, southwest flight 1380 was in serious trouble and everyone aboard knew it. You've heard the expression, a wing and a prayer. They were living it. They weren't going to make it to Dallas. The passengers were thinking they weren't going to make it, period. Put yourself in this situation. You don't know how much time you have left and I remember being so like paralyzed in that moment. It was clear that the situation was dire. Reporter: In the next seat, Matt tranchin was trying to send a message to his pregnant wife, Molly. At that point, you just -- you just say your goodbyes. And that's when I took out my phone, and immediately sent Molly a message just telling her I -- I loved her, and something was wrong. Reporter: Incredibly Molly is able to get a phone call through to Matt on the plane. I just said, you know, "I'm here with you. I'm gonna be here with you until the end," you know, "Don't hang up." Reporter: In the midst of calamity, still struggling with his air mask, Marty Martinez paid eight dollars for wi-fi, and began streaming on Facebook live. I wanted to like tell, you know, the people that mattered to me, that -- that I loved them. And it was just like a very difficult -- it was a very difficult thing to do, like, and I remember being so mad that I felt as though my life was being cut short. Reporter: As other passengers prepared for the worst, a small band, Tim McGinty, firefighter Andrew needum and Peggy Phillips, a nurse, had tuned all that out. I was just focused on the -- what was right in front of me. That was my task, that was my job. And I -- I had to give her my very, very best, and that was all of my attention. Reporter: They were doing everything they could for Jennifer Riordan, who had been pulled halfway through the broken window. To be honest, I wouldn't have done this interview if I didn't think that maybe some closure could come to the family, to know that she did not suffer. Reporter: She was gone when you got there? I think so. I mean you didn't know at the time. We did what we could with what we had. The odds were just stacked against us. Reporter: While they worked to save Jennifer Riordan, how would the flight crew save the other 143 passengers? Up in the cockpit, captain tammie Jo Shults and first officer Darren Ellisor, who was behind the controls, not really sure what was happening in the back. The aircraft yawed and banked to the left, a little over degrees and we had a -- a very severe vibration from the number one engine that was -- shaking everything. And -- that all kind of happened all at once. Reporter: The whole thing was shaking? Uh-huh, yes. Reporter: A lot? Yes. Reporter: What did you think had happened? My immediate reaction was a -- a seizure of the engine. Reporter: That's pilot speak for engine failure. Southwest 1380. We're single engine. Reporter: As we now know the engine did more than stall. It blew apart. It was -- very disorienting to have all these things happen at once. And I actually couldn't make heads or tails of -- of what was going on. Reporter: At what point did you know it was something more serious? Pretty immediately because the seizure of the aircraft would not cause a rapid decompression. So we knew that something extraordinary had happened pretty quickly. Reporter: As the plane started descending, tammie Jo and Darren each put on their oxygen masks and say their instincts took over from there. He started and then I put mine on and then we had some switchology to do to be able to communicate through the mask. And then it was really just back to flying. Aviate, navigate, communicate. Reporter: At the helm of the aircraft, the woman often mistaken for a flight attendant, and whose mere presence in the cockpit has left some passenunsettled. Every once in awhile there would be a passenger that would look at me, see the stripes and say, "Are you flying?" And if I answered "Yes," every once in awhile they'd turn around and get off. Reporter: They'd turn around and get off? Right, they'd just shake their head. "Not for me." Reporter: But gender bias, is something tammie Jo says she has long endured in her journey to the cockpit. At a young age she was convinced she had the right stuff, but at first she seemed to be the only one. Initially, I could not talk anyone into accepting my application. I had a clipping of a newspaper that said, "If you have your college degree, come join the air force, we need pilots." And they said, "If you have a brother, we'll talk to him, but we don't want to talk to you." Reporter: Eventually a Navy recruiter signed her up. Then I was getting my head shaved "G.I. Jane" style. Translator: Tammie Jo had finally earned her gold wings, raising to the rank of lieutenant. She was also among the first female f-18 fighter pilots, seen here in an old news report. I joined the military because I wanted to be a warrior and getting to fly what we've been trained to fly would be great. Reporter: But up until the early 90's, women weren't allowed to fly combat missions. Instead they were relegated to teaching the men. Just like Kelly Mcgillis did with Tom Cruise in "Top gun." If you think, you're dead. That's a big gamble with a $30 million plane. Reporter: You were training men to do what you weren't allowed to do. Right. Right. A little odd. Reporter: In 1993, she left the Navy and has been flying for southwest for 25 years. To her right, in that cockpit, 44-year-old Darren Ellisor. 12 years her junior, but just as qualified. Also a former military pilot who according to his parents dreamed of flying since childhood. By the time he was 14, he was in ninth grade, he made a commitment that he wanted to go to the air force academy. Reporter: It's no wonder they were right at home at the intrepid sea, air and space museum in New York where we conducted our interview this week about that harrowing incident where all that military training kicked in. In the Navy there's a saying, "Whatever it takes." Everybody breathe, everybody breathe, we are almost landing. Everybody breathe, we are almost there. The flight attendants had communicated that there was a window out. And then they later communicated that -- that we would need ems. Reporter: That must have been a punch in the gut, though, when you heard that someone was injured. Uh-huh. That's when we decided it was time to go land.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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