Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kamikaze: F-16 pilots planned to ram Flight 93 (but instead shot a laser beam that made the plane and its wreckage invisible?)

When the pilots of the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard got the order to intercept Flight 93, the hijacked jet speeding toward the nation's capital, they figured there was a decent chance they would not come back alive.

That's because the F-16 jets they were rushing to get airborne were largely unarmed, recalls one of the pilots, then-Lt. Heather Penney, leaving them one option to take out the wayward plane: a kamikaze mission.

"We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We would be ramming the aircraft, because we didn’t have weapons on board to be able to shoot the airplane down," Penney told C-SPAN.

In the days before Sept. 11, there were no armed aircraft standing guard in Washington, D.C., ready to scramble at the first sign of trouble.

And with a Boeing 757 aircraft speeding in the direction of Washington, D.C., Penney and her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, couldn't wait the dozens of minutes it was going to take to properly arm their respective jets.

"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. more