I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since the Twin Towers fell. In these last few days there have been numerous articles about that day and of memorials being held in NYC. For the most part I have stayed away from them. While I do think it is important for us to remember what happened, I think I just wanted to avoid it this week.
But one article caught my attention and I couldn’t help but click on it. It told of the two pilots who were ordered to intercept Flight 93. Back in 2001, there were no fighter jets that were armed and ready to take off to intercept planes. It was a different time.
When the order came to intercept Flight 93, the two pilots, Lt. Heather Penney and Col. Marc Sasseville, could not wait for their planes to be armed. They took off with only 105 lead-nosed bullets and the knowledge that those bullets wouldn’t do the job.
From the article:
“It was decided that Sass and I would take off first, even though we knew we would end up having to take off before our aircraft were armed,” Penney, among the first generation of American female fighter pilots, said to C-SPAN.
Penney said each jet had 105 lead-nosed bullets on board, but little more.
“As we were putting on our flight gear … Sass looked at me and said, ‘I’ll ram the cockpit.’ And I had made the decision that I would take the tail off the aircraft,” Penney recalled.
Both pilots thought about whether they would have enough time to eject before impact.
“I was hoping to do both at the same time,” Sasseville told the Washington Post. “It probably wasn’t going to work, but that’s what I was hoping.”
Penney, a rookie fight pilot, worried about missing her target.
“You only got one chance. You don’t want to eject and then miss. You’ve got to be able to stick with it the whole way,” she said.
The pilots chose their impact spots in order to minimize the debris field on the ground. A plane with no nose and no tail would likely fall straight out of the sky, its forward momentum halted, Penney said.
I read the article and was just amazed and reminded about what our men and women in uniform are willing to do for us each day.