This F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on 9/11

❝ Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

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.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

❝ For years, Penney, one of the first generation of female combat pilots in the country, gave no interviews about her experiences on Sept. 11…But 10 years later [and since], she is reflecting on one of the lesser-told tales of that endlessly examined morning: how the first counterpunch the U.S. military prepared to throw at the attackers was effectively a suicide mission.

I know the feeling. On the ground, though, and not in the US military. In my experience, one of an all-encompassing fatalistic calm. If you made the decision, you left it at that. You have already run past all the alternatives, results, challenges. Instantly. All that is left is the responsibility you have assumed.

9/11 rescue dog celebrates her 16th birthday in NYC


Click to enlargeBretagne is the last living rescue dog who worked at the World Trade Center

A rescue dog that flew to New York for the 9/11 recovery effort returned last month to celebrate her 16th birthday.

The golden retriever named Bretagne traveled from Cypress, Texas, with her owner, Denise Corliss, after the 2001 terror attacks. They worked with dozens of other dogs and humans to find victims in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Her Aug. 22 return for a birthday bash was sponsored by BarkPost, a New York-based website devoted to all things canine.

The daylong celebration included a dog friendly cake, a ride in a vintage taxi and a trip to a dog run.

BarkPost creative producer Lara Hartle says Bretagne’s favorite part was the cake…

Good dog.

Dumb crook of the day

Authorities say a burglar who broke into a middle school got stuck on an elevator and was forced to call 911 for help.

Local media outlets report that police say 19-year-old Michael Claude of Laurel broke into the school Monday. Officials say he was riding down the hallways on a buffing machine before he got on the elevator. After he got stuck, police say, Claude called 911 for help, and an elevator maintenance service was able to open the doors.

Police say Claude was found wearing a Laurel letterman jacket that did not belong to him. He was charged with third-degree burglary, criminal mischief and theft. He was released on $3,800 bond.

Har.

“Take picture now of what we have…”


Illustration by Tom Bachtell

In June, 2001, Konstantin Petrov, an immigrant from Estonia, got a job as an electrician at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the north tower of the World Trade Center. He was given a little office without cabinets, and after he built a shelf there, by bolting a steel plate to an exposed steel girder, he sent his friends a photograph of himself lying across it, and boasted that if the shelf ever collapsed the building would go down with it…

Petrov worked the night shift. This suited him, not only because he had a day job, as the superintendent of an apartment building at the other end of Manhattan, but because he was an avid photographer, and the emptiness of the Trade Center at night, together with the stunning vistas at dawn, gave him a lot to shoot, and a lot of time and space in which to shoot it. In the summer of 2001, he took hundreds of digital photographs, mostly of offices, table settings, banquettes, sconces, stairwells, kitchen equipment, and elevator fixtures. Many shots were lit by the rising sun, with the landscape of the city in the background, gleaming and stark-shadowed, more than a hundred floors below.

This past summer, Erik Nelson, a documentary filmmaker, was trying to finish cutting a film called “9/10: The Final Hours,” for the National Geographic Channel. He’d dug up all kinds of footage shot the day before the September 11th terrorist attacks, but very little of what the buildings had looked like inside. Amid a desperation for interiors, there was talk of abandoning the project. Then one of Nelson’s film researchers came across a trove of Petrov’s pictures, on an Estonian photo-sharing site called Fotki.

Nelson felt as though he had stumbled on the tomb of King Tut. For whatever reason, this Petrov had turned an archivist’s eye on the banalities of an office building and a sky-top restaurant, which, though destroyed in one of history’s most photographed events, had hardly been photographed at all. The pictures were beautiful, too. Devoid of people, and suffused with premonitory gloom, they made art out of a site that most New Yorkers, at the time, had come to think of as an eyesore. Petrov seemed to be a kind of savant of the commonplace, as though he’d known that all of it would soon disappear down a smoking pit. Inadvertently or not, he left behind a ghostly record, apparently the only one, of this strange twentieth-century aerie, as though he’d been sent here for this purpose alone.

Another Estonian named Dmitri Don developed one of the first photo-sharing sites – for Estonians to share photos from America with friends back home. Fotki is where Petrov’s photos live. RTFA for the whole tale.

Petrov died less than a year after 9/11 in a motorcycle crash on the West Side Highway.

“It’s a big lesson to all of us,” Dmitri Don said. “Take picture now of what we have.”

Thanks, Mike

FCC is requiring text-to-911 on all carriers – most 911 centers can’t receive them!

By the end of the year, carriers will be required to route all of your emergency texts to 911. The problem is most emergency services agencies aren’t yet equipped to receive them.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to require all mobile carriers to route text messages sent to 911 to local emergency response centers — just like phone calls — by the end of the year. The decision might not have much of an impact though.

The big four operators have already implemented text-to-911 voluntarily, though many smaller operators have not. But the big issues is that only about 2 percent of 911 response centers are capable of receiving SMS, so most emergency messages just get sent into the ether (though carriers are required to notify such texters that their messages weren’t received).

The FCC also now requires over-the-top messaging apps linked to phone numbers must all support 911. That means an app that works within the phone’s SMS client such as iMessage must be able to send 911 texts, but a social messaging app like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp does not.

Always heartwarming to realize that a government agency chartered to deal with modern communications handles its tasks about as well as Congress.

Top 10 bizarre 999 emergency calls in London

The London Fire Brigade said the top 10 bizarre 999 calls include a woman reporting a spider on her pillow, an elderly woman who accidentally threw her dentures at a pair of fighting dogs when she tossed a glass of water at them and a father who called to report his son’s shoe was on the garage roof and it was an emergency because the boy needed the shoe to play soccer.

The calls also included a woman complaining of a squirrel in her kitchen, a woman whose cellphone fell into her toilet, a woman who spotted a fox with “an odd look on its face” in her garden and an au pair who was unable to close a window and didn’t want to upset her host family.

The brigade said a man called for help changing a tire, a woman called for help freeing her husband from a titanium chastity belt and a woman called to complain of a bat in her kitchen.

Officials said they are hoping to stem the tide of non-emergency 999 calls.

Our advice is simple — if it’s not an emergency, don’t ring 999,” Third Officer Dave Brown said. “If you’re calling because you have a serious phobia, then arrange for a housemate, friend, or neighbor to help you. If you’re calling because there’s an unexpected animal in your home, call the RSPCA. Firefighters are here for Londoners but we can’t be on speed dial when something trivial happens.”

This will all sound painfully familiar to any 911 dispatcher in the United States.

New York City’s latest subway murder is a hate crime!

A 31-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train.

The woman, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said…

In a statement, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Ms. Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said.

The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu.

Mr. Sen “was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Mr. Brown said. “Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions should never be tolerated by a civilized society.”

No one ever accused Tea Party bigots of being part of a civilized society. They’re still welcomed into the Republican Party with open arms.

Four years back we all witnessed John McCain rejecting this kind of stupidity. But, don’t worry, it won’t happen, again.

Ms. Menendez is expected to be arraigned by Sunday morning. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. By charging her with murder as a hate crime, the possible minimum sentence she faced would be extended to 20 years from 15 years, according to prosecutors…

The attack occurred around 8 p.m. on Thursday at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside.

Mr. Sen, 46, was looking out over the tracks when a woman approached him from behind and shoved him onto the tracks, according to the police. Mr. Sen never saw her, the police said.

Mr. Sen, after years of saving money, had opened a small copying business on the Upper West Side this year.

Ar Suman, a Muslim, and one of three roommates who shared a small first-floor apartment with Mr. Sen in Elmhurst, said he and Mr. Sen often discussed religion.

Though they were of different faiths, Mr. Suman said, he admired the respect that Mr. Sen showed for those who saw the world differently than he did. Mr. Suman said he once asked Mr. Sen why he was not more active in his faith and it resulted in a long philosophical discussion.

“He was so gentle,” Mr. Suman said. “He said in this world a lot of people are dying, killing over religious things.”

Dumb crook of the day

Here’s a cautionary tale for would-be thieves.

A Connecticut man accidentally called 911 on his cell phone while he was allegedly stealing 700 pounds of scrap metal from a local business Thursday.

Police initially thought the call was a medical emergency, since they could only hear rustling in the background before the call disconnected…But once identified the caller’s location using GPS, they arrived at the scene to find Michael Gorneau, 46, had transferred the metal from a local business’s dumpster into his pick-up truck.

Gorneau accidentally called 911 while crawling under a fence, police told Southington Patch…The metal belonged to a company that makes metal doors, NBC Connecticut reported. Far from being trash, it’s generally sold to help pay for the employees’ benefits.

Gorneau was charged with third-degree trespassing and sixth-degree larceny.

Has anyone written a book yet called “Stealing for Dummies”?