A White House official apologized Monday after a low-flying Boeing 747 spotted above the Manhattan skyline frightened workers and residents into evacuating buildings.
The aircraft was a White House plane taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision,” said Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office. “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.”
Witnesses reported seeing the plane circle over the Upper New York Bay near the Statue of Liberty before flying up the Hudson River. It was accompanied by two F-16s. Video Watch the plane fly over Manhattan
“I was here on 9/11,” said iReporter Tom Kruk, who spotted the plane as he was getting coffee Monday morning and snapped a photo. Kruk called the sight of the aircraft low in the sky “unsettling.”
The incident outraged many New Yorkers, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“First thing is, I’m annoyed — furious is a better word — that I wasn’t told,” he said, calling the aviation administration’s decision to withhold details about the flight “ridiculous” and “poor judgment.”
“Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center defies the imagination,” he said. “Had we known, I would have asked them not to.”
Video: Watch the White House respond to questions about the scare
Linda Garcia-Rose, a social worker who counsels post-traumatic stress disorder patients in an office just three blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood, called the flight an “absolute travesty.”
“There was no warning. It looked like the plane was about to come into us,” she said. “I’m a therapist, and I actually had a panic attack.”
The only “White House plane” of this type I knew about were the two 747’s which, when carrying the president, are called Air Force One.
Since 1990, the presidential fleet has consisted of two specifically configured, highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft—tail numbers 28000 and 29000—with Air Force designation VC-25A. – ef
How many 747s does the White House actually have now… and how many did they have the day before 9/11? Did Obama just sent Cheney a little warning?