9/11 TWENTY YEARS ON: Jet pilot recalls being ordered to kill herself

One of America’s first-ever female fighter pilots has recalled how she was ordered to kill herself by ramming her jet into one of the hijacked airliners.

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 7:00 am
Heather Penney (talking to ABC)

Heather Penney’s story is just one of many being re-lived on news networks across the USA, as people in the military and emergency services told tales of what they were doing on that fateful day, and paid tribute to lost comrades.

The official commemorations today from President Biden are expected to be somewhat muted, but a string of remembrance events have already taken place in local policing and fire districts.

The New York Fire Department for instance had a charity ice hockey match, a remembrance service, and posted videos online of how the service managed to “rebuild” after losing 343 crew.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Similar pre-anniversary events were taking place within the NYPD too.

And over on the ABC news channel, Ms Penney paid tribute to the “heroism” of the emergency service men and women who died – and described how she nearly joined them.

She was an F-16 pilot in the air force, and was given a mission to intercept Flight 93 as it began moving towards Washington DC.

But she was scrambled so quickly, there was no time to arm the aircraft.

“We did not have missiles. We were on a suicide mission,” she said.

“And in order to be able to take any airliner down, Sass [her colleague] would ram his aircraft into the cockpit where the terrorists were, to destroy the flight controls.

“I would take the tail... unbalance the airplane and tip it over so it would crash.

“I had raised my hand and swore an oath to protect and defend our nation.

“If this was where the universe had placed me at this moment in time... this was my purpose.”

In the end, it was the passengers onboard who fought back against the hijackers that caused Flight 93 to crash before reaching its target.

More from the News Letter:

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptionsnow to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.