Newsday Story: The Amazing Courage of Two Jet Pilots on 9/11

Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney

There was an inspirational story in Newsday today about the two jet pilots who were scheduled to ram Flight 93 and bring it down before it hit the Capitol or the White House.

One of the pilots, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney, an F-16 pilot, was told to stop the fourth hijacked airliner as it was roaring towards Washington. She did not have time to arm her jet and said, “We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft.” Penney and her commander, Col. Marc Sasseville, headed towards the hijacked plane on a suicide mission after he barked the order, “Lucky, you’re coming with me.”

Lucky Penney was a rookie and the first female F-16 pilot ever at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard. Her father flew jets in Vietnam and when Congress opened up combat aviation to women, Penney withdrew from the Lit program at Purdue and signed up.

On 9/11, there were no armed aircraft ready and in place. Things have changed since then. Our country now has two armed planes and pilots on the ready.

After that fateful day, Commander Sasseville said, that at the time, he thought about the possibility of ramming and ejecting at the same time, as unrealistic as that was. Penney said “If you eject and your jet soars through without impact…”

Hours later, they received word that Flight 93 was taken down by the passengers. Penney says, “The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves.” Read here: Newsday

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