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Purdue alumna recalls preparing to sacrifice her life as pilot during 9/11

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Posted at 1:07 PM, Sep 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 13:07:56-04

WEST LAFAYETTE — A Purdue alumna continues to share her story after nearly sacrificing her life to save others during the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Heather Penney, a 1995 graduate of Purdue University, and lead pilot Marc Sasseville boarded an F-16 on the day of the attacks with the intention to fly the plane into United Airlines Flight 93 to stop it from creating more tragedy.

“When Sass and I took off, we believed that if we were successful that this was a one-way mission, that this was a suicide mission,” Penney said.

Sasseville and Penney, however, never located the airliner. In fact, they later learned that their frustrating wait to be authorized for takeoff had taken too long. If not for the heroic actions of the passengers and crew who resisted the four hijackers and forced the plane to crash into the Pennsylvania countryside, United 93 likely would have become the fourth hijacked plane that morning to obliterate a national landmark.

Penney recently sat down to share her thoughts in those harrowing moments and what he life has been in the 22 years since then.

You can read that full interview here.