Recriminations after NYC jet flyover photo op

It was supposed to be a photo op that captured images of an Air Force One plane with a majestic Statue of Liberty in the background. Instead, it turned into a public relations nightmare that led to recriminations from the president and mayor and prompted thousands other to ask, “What were they thinking?”

Just before the workday began on Monday, an airliner and supersonic fighter jet zoomed past the lower Manhattan skyline. Within minutes, startled financial workers streamed out of their offices, fearing a nightmarish replay of Sept. 11.

By Associated Press Writers Ula Ilnytzky And Sara Kugler

For a half-hour, the Boeing 747 and F-16 jet circled the Statue of Liberty and the Financial District near the World Trade Center site. Offices evacuated. Dispatchers were inundated with calls. Witnesses thought the planes were flying dangerously low.

But the flyover was nothing but a photo op, apparently one of a series of flights to get pictures of the plane in front of national landmarks.

It was carried out by the Defense Department with little warning, infuriating New York officials and putting the White House on the defense. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg didn’t know about it, and he later called it “insensitive” to fly so near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The director of the White House military office, Louis Caldera, took the blame a few hours later. One of the planes was a 747 that is called Air Force One when used by the president.

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision,” Caldera said. “While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090428/ap_on_r
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From the L.A. Times

Two planes flying over Lower Manhattan for a White House-initiated photo op triggers Sept. 11 fears and evacuations.
Times Wire Services
April 28, 2009
.

New York — One of the president’s official planes and a supersonic fighter jet buzzed over Lower Manhattan just as the workday was beginning Monday. Within minutes, startled financial workers streamed out of their offices, fearing a nightmarish replay of Sept. 11.

For half an hour, the Boeing 747 and F-16 jet circled the Statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan skyline near the World Trade Center site. Offices evacuated. Dispatchers were inundated with calls. Witnesses thought the planes were flying dangerously low.

But the flyover was nothing but a photo op, apparently one of a series of flights to get pictures of the president’s airliner in front of national landmarks.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo
rld/nation/la-na-ny-flyover28-2009ap
r28,0,7667904.story

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