Odd Twist in Tale of Would-Be 9/11 Kamikaze Pilot

Heather Penney's dad could have been flying United 93

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 15, 2011 7:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – A truly wild footnote to the story about Heather Penney, the F-16 pilot who was willing to give up her life, kamikaze-style, by flying her unarmed jet into United 93 to stop it on Sept. 11: She was potentially willing to sacrifice her father's life, too. The Washington Post reports on the new detail, which Penney's mother shared via an email to the paper requesting a copy of the story. She wrote, "We were thankful that Heather was able to put her emotions aside and not even consider that her father might have been flying on United 93." Uhh, what?

Yeah, that's right: Her dad, John Penney, was a captain for United at the time, and just so happened to fly 757s ... out of the East Coast. "Heather would not have known for sure that her dad wasn’t the captain on United 93," her mom explained in a follow-up call. "It would not have changed what I needed to do at all," says Heather. Dad's take? "We talked about the possibility ... but we never fell down and emotionally broke apart or anything like that. She’s a fighter pilot; I’m a fighter pilot." And a heartbreaking footnote to the footnote: One of John Penney's closest pilot buddies, Jason Dahl, was captain of Flight 93 that day.

This photo provided by the National Championship Air Races shows Heather Penney in front of the race jet "Ragu Grace", in Reno, Nev.   (AP Photo/National Championship Air Races, Tyson Rininger)
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