& Inspirational Speaker
Keynotes & Consulting on How to Build Mission Purposed Culture and Everyday Heroism
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.
Heather is a visionary and multi-passionate thought leader. She has a natural curiosity and an ability to see problems in new ways, recognize connections and causalities, and understand how smaller elements or interactions can impact the larger system. But good ideas don’t mean anything unless they can be enacted – Heather is also focused on pragmatic implementation and outcomes.
Topics that have been on her mind lately include: the meaning and responsibilities of citizenship; the allure of and antidote for disinformation; modern American national identity; electrical power generation and the power grid; the transformational power of learning to fly; and increasing the pilot population.
Heather has been inducted as an Air Force Eagle at Air University; was the 2018-2019 Beideman Visiting Scholar at the Oskin Leadership Institute for Weideman University; and is on the Steering Committee for the Purdue University National Aviation Symposium.
Heather “Lucky” Penney is a dynamic speaker who will deeply move your audience as she shares her experience on 9/11. Her delivery is resonant, respectful, and uplifting as she honors the service and heroism of all who served and gave on that fateful day.
She has spoken on topics ranging from personal courage; decision-making under stress; leadership; organizational transformation; culture and inclusivity; high performance teams; national defense issues; and aviation. Heather has received formal media training and is adept at live, print, and digital interviews. She has lectured at the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School, the United States Air Force Academy, Weidener College, and the United States Naval Academy; has keynoted college commencements; and is a frequently requested and insightful panelist and moderator on a variety of subjects.
Heather Penney is an engaging and enthralling speaker – her presentation was riveting and emotionally powerful, perhaps the best speaker we have had at the VA Providence Healthcare SystemJohn J. Loughlin II, Public Affairs Officer
Purdue Aviation Symposium, West Lafayette, IN
April 6-8, 2022
Women in Criminal Justice Conference, Bloomington, IN
April 12, 2022