Flight 93 crashed by terrorists on 9/11, but a rookie F-16 pilot made a suicide pact ahead of the fateful crash. Her name is Maj. Heather "Lucky" Penney, then a rookie on September 11, 2001. Her orders were to stop the Boeing 757 by any means necessary.
Penney says that flying runs through her family. Her father flew missions in the Vietnam War and races aircraft today. It was always her dream to be a combat pilot and follow in the footsteps of her dad.
However, opportunities for women didn't exist in 2001, so she enrolled in college instead. Soon after, Congress opened up combat flight training for women. Of course, she enrolled, received her pilot's license, and was living her dream.
Then on September 11, 2001, after just completing a combat training mission in Nevada, she and her crew received word a plane struck the World Trade Center (WTC) Twin Towers.
Flight 93 on 9/11 was somewhere out there heading towards an unknown targetÂ—possibly the White House.
Not much thought was given to the news; it was dismissed as an accident. However, when she received word that a second plane made its mark on the other tower, she and her crew realized the country was under attack.
Without hesitation and a clear plan, like something cut from a scene of a Top Gun movie, her commanding officer motioned for her to join him.
"Lucky, you're coming with me," said Col. Marc Sasseville. Moments later, they were standing on the runway making preparations to board a pair of F-16s. Eager to join her boss on a live combat mission, she rapidly suited up in her pilot's gear.
Then, the reality of 9/11 was clear; they had to act. She realized the enormity of the situation by the empty gaze from Sasseville. But she was ready to die for her country.
Even so, instinctively she realized the greater good in the Flight 93 mission was to sacrifice her own life so that others may live. But the country had never been attacked, and there was no plan in place to have armed F-16s at the ready.
Besides, Penney had recently completed a training mission using dummy bullets. Suicide required no training, just will. The only likely weapon was the plane itself.
"I'm going to go for the cockpit," said Sasseville. If she wanted to cut and run, it wasn't shown.
In a snap, she said, I'll take the tail. And as chilling as the reality of the Flight 93 missions were on September 11, soldiers daily face the possibility that their life may be sacrificed for the sake of freedom.
Sadly, the Boeing 757 crashed as passengers, the true heroes, made their own suicide pact.
The single mom of two daughters still flies today, but not as a combat pilot.
To her, death on 9/11 was imminent if it meant sparing the lives of Americans on the ground, while scoring a minor victory against terror. It's what soldiers do for their country.
Photo Source: Facebook