This story appeared in the Daily Intel, as extracted from the Washington Post:
Lieutenant Heather “Lucky” Penney was the first female F-16 pilot in the D.C. Air National Guard’s 121st Fighter Squadron after getting her flying license while a literature major at Purdue. On September 11, 2001, she volunteered to go after United Airlines Flight 93, which was headed toward Washington. The planes weren’t prepared, but the pilots were:
The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.
Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.
“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”
Due to separate heroic acts on the highjacked plane, Penney’s sacrifice wasn’t necessary. She spent the rest of that day guarding the airspace and escorting the president.
Many young readers may find themselves soon facing the walk into a new school where no friends await, as does my heroine Silla Penobscott. She’s moved from Manhattan to the country, and even though her summer was busy and fun – including both a new puppy AND a mystery to solve – now she is again unsure of the future. I hope my readers take to heart the fact that this is a lifelong experience. As you know from my previous post I’m catching a plane Wednesday to attend the PNWA Conference in Seattle, where my first children’s chapter mystery The Victorian with a Secret, is a Literary Contest finalist. I am flying across the country and I do not know one person there.
Like all new students heading off to school this is a path I have to walk by myself. Such new adventures can be scary. I know there will be other writers, so we do have something in common. Silla knows there will be other eight-year-old girls waiting at the school, some might even have puppies and pesky baby brothers. But how many will there be that will reach out to a Jewish-Mexican city girl? After all, when you’ve already got friends how many more do you need? I am hoping to not only find some friends in the writing business, but also persuade an agent to help bring this mystery series to life in a bookstore near you.
Silla, or should I say Agent P3, is a very practical and clever girl. Together we will explore this question, and a new mystery(!) in our next book. With the post I hope you know that we are all in this together. If you get back to school this fall and there is a new face in your classroom, I hope that you will take the chance to reach out and make that person feel welcome. This new adventure of mine is a good reminder of how scary these jumps off the dock can be, even for adults. I am hoping for lots of friendly faces, lots to learn and chances to laugh. Until next time, I wish you the same in your adventures – whatever they may be.