The Story of the 9/11 Air Force Kamikaze Pilot

It seems like we've heard every last story remotely connected to the events of 9/11. But I'd never heard this one: the one about the female fighter pilot who came thisclose to a patriotic suicide mission that day.

In the Washington Post today, Steve Hendrix unspools the tale of Air Force Lt. Heather "Lucky" Penney, who's preferred to maintain public silence about 9/11, until now. She was a rookie fighter pilot assigned to the DC Air National Guard when the chaos started that day. After the Pentagon was struck by a plane, word came in that another hijacked plane—Flight 93—was still in the air, headed towards DC. Fighter jets were ordered to be scrambled immediately. Penney got the call. One problem: her plane didn't have any weapons on board. And there was no time to add them. So she and another pilot took off with the intention of bringing down Flight 93 by ramming it with their own planes.

"Lucky, you're coming with me," barked Col. Marc Sasseville.

They were gearing up in the pre-flight life-support area when Sasseville, struggling into his flight suit, met her eye.

"I'm going to go for the cockpit," Sasseville said.

She replied without hesitating.

"I'll take the tail."

The passengers on board Flight 93 ended up bringing down the plane themselves. Wowza.

[Washington Post. Photo: AP]