LeRoy Homer, co-pilot of United Airlines Flight #93, was born on August 27, 1965 in Long Island, New York. Homer and his three sisters were raised on Long Island by their German mother, Ilse, and their African-American father who died from a stroke when Homer was twelve. Homer’s interest in airplanes started at an early age and he began taking flying lessons when he was fifteen. He joined the Air Force and after graduating from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he served as a pilot in both the Desert Shield and Desert Storm military operations in the Middle East and later flew aircraft in humanitarian operations in Somalia. Homer served seven years on active duty in the Air Force, eventually becoming a Captain before switching into the reserves, where he rose to the rank of Major.
In 1995, Homer joined United Airlines as a pilot That same year, he met his future wife, Melodie Thorpe. The two were married on May 24, 1998. Homer and his wife spent the first two years of their marriage travelling the world as he worked for United Airlines, until they were ready to start a family. In October of 2000 Homer and his wife had a daughter, Laurel.
Homer’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 36 when his hijacked plane crashed. On September 11, 2001 Homer was co-piloting United Airlines Flight #93 from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, California when four terrorists hidden among the 37 passengers hijacked the plane. It is believed that this particular plane was headed for the United States Capitol, but the plane’s difficult auto-pilot system prevented that. When one of the hijackers realized he could not fly the plane, he called the pilots back into the cockpit which provided the opportunity for members of the crew and passengers to fight the terrorists. Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania killing all on board, including LeRoy Homer. Homer’s widow, Melodie, created the LeRoy Homer Foundation in 2002, which provides financial support for young people seeking a profession in aviation.
The LeRoy Homer Foundation, www.leroywhomerjr.org; Melodie Homer, From Where I Stand: Flight #93 Pilot's Widow Sets the Record Straight (Minneapolis: Langdon Street Press, 2012); Salute to the Memory of LeRoy W. Homer Jr., United 93 Co-Pilot and Hero, available at: www.black-collegian.com.
BlackPast.org is an independent non-profit corporation 501(c)(3). It has no affiliation with the University of Washington. BlackPast.org is supported in part by a grant from Humanities Washington, a state-wide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the state of Washington, and contributions from individuals and foundations.