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Heather Penney

Known for flying a ramming mission to prevent United Airlines Flight 93 from reaching Washington, D.C. during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

On September 11, 2001, American lives changed suddenly when hijackers took control of four civilian aircraft, targeting major American locations, including the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. With a fourth hijacked plane still in the air, First Lieutenant (later major) Heather Penney of the 121st Fighter Squadron of the Air National Guard and her commanding officer, Colonel Marc Sasseville (later Lieutenant General), took to the sky in their F-16s. The duo received one-way orders to stop United Airlines Flight 93 as it headed towards Washington, DC. Armed with shoot to kill orders, but no weapons, they were on a suicide mission with full intention of ramming the Boeing 757 in order to protect national security. After sweeping the DC airspace for over an hour, the pilots learned the passengers had forced the aircraft down in a Pennsylvania field.

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