Lockheed Martin F-16 - Take Off

I’ve read this story countless times during the past eight years. And it still makes my heart race and causes adrenaline to pump through me. 

This story has been around for a while. Maybe you’ve read or heard about it. I figured today is apropos to share it just in case the story is new to you or you want to read it again.

On September 11, 2001, United States Air National Guard pilots Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney and Col. Marc Sasseville scrambled to intercept United Airlines Flight 93. Because their aircraft were outfitted for training missions, the planes carried no live ammo.

Their only weapons that could bring down Flight 93 were the F-16s themselves.

“I’m going to go for the cockpit,” Sasseville said.

She replied without hesitating.

“I’ll take the tail.”

And if they were lucky, they may have had time to eject out of their planes and parachute to safety — but they didn’t plan on it. (Of course, United 93 was brought down before the pilots could reach their target.)

What a brave, terrifying, and heroic mission.

Read more about this amazing story and check out the video interview.

H/T: FlightAware


  1. If this is really true, I’m troubled by the thought that it was considered acceptable to kill a plane load of passengers to save other people whose lives and souls are equally important even though they may have more important titles and positions in this country.

  2. Ralfinho

    @BMG, interesting point. However, if this plane wouldn’t have been stopped and had reached its target … the people inside the plane would have died as well. The planes crashing into WTC not only killed people in the towers but also in the planes.
    Nevertheless, the decision to bring down a commercial airliner full of innocent people … is one that should not be made too easily.

  3. @BMG I’m not sure it is about considering things acceptable. We were in an emergency situation where risks and benefits had to be weighed – like D-Day. The leadership as well as the soldiers knew that it would take deaths to preserve ultimate life and preservation of democracy. The plane over PA was headed to DC. The goal was to destroy this country. These navigators were patriots. They were trying to defend this country at its core. I honor them. I can’t think anyone took the decision lightly.

  4. HuntingtonGuy

    America’s Armed Services = Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

    Thankfully 93 never reached DC and these pilots didn’t have to carry out a horrible option.

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