On 9/11 she was ordered up in her F-16 to intercept flight 93 before it reached DC. Without rockets or guns, the unspoken order was to ram the commercial jet like a Kamikaze. She, with her commander, took off to do just that but turned back only when they found out the passengers had taken over the plane and forced it to the ground. She is an American hero and a great role model.
As chaos ensued, Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney was sitting in her F-16 jet at Andrews Air Force Base with very specific orders.
Bring down United Airlines Flight 93 'by any means possible.'
She and Col. Marc Sasseville were given those orders that day, even though they were sitting in planes without any live ammunition. That meant, they both had to plan to ram the hijacked plane with their own jets.
For more than 10 years, Lt. Penney (now a Major), didn't talk about about her experience that day , but in 2011 she gave an interview to C-SPAN, an interview and a story we had not heard until now.
She talked about how Col. Sasseville was ready to ram the cockpit, and she would aim for the tail.
She told the Washington Post: "I genuinely believed that was going to be the last time I took off. The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves. I was just an accidental witness to history."
And there was one more twist to the story. From the Washington Post:
"Later, as the Penney family checked in on each other from around the country, they marveled at the other fateful twist on the extraordinary events: the possibility that Penney's own father could well have been in cockpit of her airliner target.
John Penney was a captain at United Airlines at the time. He had been flying East Coast routes all the previous month. The daughter had no way of knowing whether the father was airborne or not.
How the Andrews AFB National Guard had zero aircraft ready to use ammo, missiles, bombs, to defend the nations capital? That's a question I doubt has been asked or answered. How any military base could be so unprepared to launch at a moments notice to take down incoming bad guys... any military base in any country. There's only one reason for military planes and bases to exist, to kill enemy attackers, and to run drills and war games to be prepared and ready for when that one day comes when the base, or air field, or squadron, fleet, or whatever - is told to get ready for incoming and to stop that from getting past them and damaging soft targets. Or am I a relic of the cold war?