Heather Penney, Female Fighter Pilot, Tells of Her Would-Be Kamikaze Mission on 9/11

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Penney
Everyone has a 9/11 story, and each is important in its own way, but the story of Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney, one of the first generation of U.S. female combat pilots, comes with a special kind of bravery and doing what you need to do in the face of unprecedented tragedy and danger. Penney, a rookie at the time and one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning -- a woman who "wanted to be a fighter pilot like [her] dad" -- had been ordered to bring down United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth plane to be hijacked that day, to prevent it from reaching Washington.

Penney gave no interviews about her experience on 9/11, until this year. The Washington Post has her story.

There was no time to arm a plane, so she had no ammunition or missiles, and wouldn't be shooting down the plane at all but instead,

"We'd be ramming the aircraft," Penney recalls of her charge that day. "I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot."

"We had to protect the airspace any way we could," she said last week in her office at Lockheed Martin, where she is a director in the F-35 program.

Things, for the record, have now changed, with armed fighter planes ready at all times in case of necessity. But at the time, things were different.

Her commander, Col. Marc Sasseville, said he was hoping at the time that he might be able to eject in the instant before impact -- "It probably wasn't going to work, but that's what I was hoping" -- while Penney was concerned that if she bailed she'd miss the target, and genuinely believed that this would be her last mission.

In the end, we all know what happened -- United 93 went down in Pennsylvania after the people aboard fought back against their hijackers. For the rest of the day, Penney and Sasseville cleared airspace and escorted the president on Air Force One back into Washington.

"The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves," Penney says. "I was just an accidental witness to history."

Now, she has two daughters, and, per the Post, "she still loves to fly."

In another story of heroism in the face of unanticipated danger, Jalopnik tells of Ben Sliney, the chief of FAA air-traffic-control operations in Hernon, Virginia, who ordered more than 4,000 planes grounded on September 11 and redirected those in the sky -- all on his first day on the job.

F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11 [WP]

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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12 comments
Soft Chewable Kamagra
Soft Chewable Kamagra

Penney, a rookie at the time and one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning ... and genuinely believed that this would be her last mission. ... 

Kjf617
Kjf617

thank you for keeping us safe Heather!

Dsimon
Dsimon

When she claims that "she was ready to die for her country", I cant help but think of the arm chair quaterback who says what he should have/could have done on the play. For gods sake she was in the reserves and too chicken shit to actively serve. Yes, she took a job from a highly qualified man because she was a female. She should never have been in that cockpit. Flying cargo planes is where she belongs. X

Napoleon634
Napoleon634

What a lying bitch. You're are part of the conspiracy to kill 3000 Americans you fucking douche!

Jjmonty
Jjmonty

Heather Penny is my hero.  It takes dedication to do what she has done.  My ship was a B29.  I , I was a radio man.  I know what it takes to be dedicated to a mission. 

Mcron
Mcron

 You are a sad case. So sorry for you.

The Man
The Man

Napoleon634 another fallen off the farthest left table liberal, like are President,the most ignorant of people, if there was global warming him and his party are causing it with all their green house gas bullshit!

Thankful to be an American
Thankful to be an American

Really? See many black choppers over your house Napoleon? You aren't fit to breath the same air as this fine American soldier. Be thankful for them and their sacrifices or please exit to a country you CAN be proud of,

Former USAF F-4 Pilot
Former USAF F-4 Pilot

Napoleon634 is the kind of person that we do not now nor ever need in this country. I wonder what he would have done if he was in Heather's place that day. Probably run for the hills crying for his mother. WHAT A JERK!!!!

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