Flight Crew

WideWings pilots are exceptionally experienced with background in both military and civilian aviation. Practical skill, judgement, and airmanship are second to none with this set of accomplished individuals.

Heather Penney, WideWings Chief Pilot


Heather attended Purdue University from 1992 to 1997, receiving her B.A. in English in 1995, and her M.A. in American Studies in 1997. In 1994, she helped create the Purdue Air Race Team, the first collegiate team to race in the Air Race Classic. It was during her graduate studies that she learned that Congress had opened combat aviation to women. She applied to, and was selected by, the 121st Fighter Squadron to fly the F-16 Viper.

Heather was an F-16C+ pilot in the 121st Fighter Squadron on Andrews AFB, MD for over 10 years.


Heather has flown numerous combat air patrols, sat alert, and scrambled in support of Operation Noble Eagle. She deployed to a classified location during the initial hostilities of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she primarily flew at night as a "scud hunter," also providing close air support for special operations forces. She has multiple Air Medals and has been recognized as a superior performer during inspections.


As a single mother of two young daughters, Major Penney made the difficult decision to leave the demanding life of a fighter pilot to spend more time with her children. Her last flight in the Viper was February 2009 and later transitioned to fly in the 201st Airlift Squadron as an instructor pilot and aircraft commander in the C-38 Gulfstream. 

In 2009, Heather was selected as the race pilot for the jet racing team “AirRace21.” In this position, Heather gave extensive live television, internet media, and print interviews on behalf of AirRace21 and the Reno Air Racing Association. In the 2010 Reno Air Races, Heather raced a modified L-29 between 50’and 350’ AGL at over 410mph.  She placed first in her speed grouping of stock-engine racers, and won second place in the Silver.

Heather is WideWings chief pilot and has 3,000 hours in multiple military jets and vintage taildraggers. She has flown her antique 1941 Taylorcraft aircraft coast-to-coast and she also finds herself occasionally co-piloting a B-17 at locations around the nation.