Heather “Lucky” Penny Shares Stories as a Pioneering Fighter Pilot and Advocate for Women in Aviation

Most widely recognized for her service on September 11, Heather “Lucky” Penney was part of the pioneering first wave of women who entered fighters directly from pilot training. Lucky was the first and only woman in the 121st Fighter Squadron during her time flying the F-16, conducting combat air patrols over Washington DC and deploying to combat twice. She was airborne the first night of initial combat for Operation Iraqi Freedom, tasked as a night-time SCUD Hunter in the western deserts of Iraq and also supporting Special Operations Forces. Lucky flew the F-16 for ten years before having to make the difficult decision to leave the fighter aviation as a single mother. Heather’s passion for aviation has never faded – she founded the first collegiate cross-country air race team, has flown her antique Taylorcraft BC-12 coast-to-coast, owned several vintage aircraft, co-piloted the B-17 Flying Fortress for the Collings Foundation, and raced jets at the Reno Air Races; she is type rated in the Gulfstream G-100 and Citation 560 series jets, and she holds CFII/MEI, and ATP ratings. Today Lucky owns and loves to fly her WWII Army Air Forces PT-13 Stearman, 1961 aerobatic Bucker Jungmann, and 1950 Cessna 170A. Heather is a passionate advocate for aviation, women in aviation, aviation history and museums, and the future of aviation. She has been inducted as an Air Force Eagle at Air University; serves is a Director of the Board for the Experimental Aircraft Association; and is on the Steering Committee for the Purdue University National Aviation Symposium.