Military pilots were spared ramming a commercial airliner carrying terrorists headed for the nation’s capital after United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
Former Air National Guard Fighter Pilot Heather Penney explained she was among the pilots ordered by former Vice President Dick Cheney to ram the plane. She informed “Fox & Friends Weekend” host Pete Hegseth Sunday that, as a rookie pilot, her plane did not carry live weaponry. The only alternative available to her and her flight leader would have been ramming the plane believed heading to targets in Washington, D.C.
Penney said the heroic passengers aboard the United flight tried to take control of the plane that led to the airliner crashing in a Pennsylvania field, killing all aboard. If they had not acted, she faced the possibility of crashing into a plane she worried may have been flown by her father, a United Airlines pilot.
“As a brand new rookie pilot… we didn’t have any ordnance on our aircraft, just training ordnance,” the former fighter pilot said. “But we knew we had to get airborne.”
The planes Penney and her team flew for that mission were F-16 Falcons, significantly smaller than commercial planes United Airlines uses for civilian passenger transport, Hegseth noted.
She told the Fox host she had not been trained for a situation like the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“In the military, we don’t train for suicide missions because we value our war fighters,” Penney said. The pilot added she and her team leader were prepared to crash into the United passenger flight. “We were in a position where — unless we had those missiles — there was no other choice.”
Penney said Lt. General Marc Sasseville, now the deputy chief of the National Guard, was her flight lead on that tragic day when they went “wheels up” from Andrews Air Force Base.
“We knew we were based there right next to the nation’s capital, but we had to have the authorization from our civilian leadership to allow us to take off, especially given the magnitude of what we knew the target was,” the pilot recounted.
Penney declared she would have rammed her F-16 into Flight 93 if the timing had worked out.
“There was no question in Sasseville’s mind, and in my mind, what we needed to do,” she told the Fox host. “We were willing to do that because not only had we sworn an oath to protect and defend our constitution, the U.S. and our way of life, protect our people, but anyone who had seen what had happened that day would’ve been willing to do the same thing.”
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