Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt.
Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force
Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16
and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The
day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward
Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air
that morning, was told to stop it.
The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline
sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw
at a hostile aircraft.
Except her own plane. So that was the plan.