On the morning of September 11, 2001, Air Force Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was a rookie pilot who had just finished several weeks of air combat training. There was no way she could have known that she was about to be given a mission which, if completed, would be her last.
Upon news that a Boeing 757 had been hijacked by terrorists and was hurtling towards Washington, D.C., Penney was told to fly her plane from Andrews Air Force Base and into United Airlines Flight 93. “We wouldn’t be shooting it down,” she recalled. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”
Her superiors had ordered her to complete what would have been a suicide mission. “We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” she explained. And so, she readied herself to take off for what she presumed would be the final time.
Penney followed her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, into the sky that day, but Flight 93 ultimately went down as the result of actions taken by heroic passengers who sacrificed their own lives to keep the plane from reaching the terrorists’ intended target.
Penney and Sasseville would spend the rest of that fateful day clearing the airspace and escorting former President George W. Bush. “The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves,” said Penney. “I was just an accidental witness to history.”
Penney, who now has two daughters, still serves in the Air Force, but as a major. She often thinks about what happened that day so many years ago. “I genuinely believed that was going to be the last time I took off,” she admitted. “If we did it right, this would be it.”
Please share this report if you are eternally grateful for the sacrifice Heather Penney was willing to make, and the ones made by the passengers on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001!