Imagine if, on September 11, 2001, you were an Air Force officer who received orders to strike down a commercial flight. Then-Lieutenant Heather “Lucky” Penney found herself in this situation when she was ordered to ram an F-16 into United Flight 93, the fourth plane that was hijacked that day. Heather’s determination to complete her mission, regardless of the costs, exemplifies her heroism and her continuation of the distinguished career in aviation of her father, John Penney, a retired Air Force Colonel and United Airlines Captain. While John was not flying on September 11, he will share his unique perspective, as both a commercial pilot and a fighter pilot, on the grounding of all commercial air traffic that day and his daughter's chosen path.
The first and only woman in the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard, Lieutenant Heather Penney enlisted in the Air Force after Congress voted to allow women to fly combat missions in 1995, and was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Colonel John Penney flew combat missions in Vietnam before retiring to become a commercial pilot.
In this lecture, this remarkable father and daughter team discuss their experiences on 9/11, their shared passion for aviation, and their inspiring service to our nation. The talk is moderated by the Museum Deputy Director Christopher U. Browne, who was the manager of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on September 11, 2001.
(The views, information, or opinions expressed during lectures are solely those of the individual presenters and do not necessarily represent those of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and its employees.)
The GE Aviation Lecture Series is made possible by the generous support of GE Aviation.