Air Force One Plane Sets Off New York Panic

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U.S. President Barack Obama is said to be furious over the Air Forces decision to fly one of the presidential Boeing 747s over Manhattan on a Monday morning with an F-16 in trail. That would appear to be the lone saving grace from a photo mission that sent New York into a state of panic and left New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wondering how something like this could be done without his, and the rest of the city's, knowledge. Now, it's not that the Air Force didn't tell anyone about the flight, which happened on a sunny morning about 10 a.m. The Air Force told the New York Police Department but added that it couldn't release the time and nature of the flight to the public and media, no doubt out of security concerns. Mayor Bloomberg was quite naturally upset. "Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe defies the imagination," Bloomberg said. "Poor judgment would be a nice ways to phrase it. ... Had I known about it, I would have called them right away and asked them not to." The FAA apparently told a Bloomberg staffer who didn't pass along the message.

The sound of five jet engines at 1,500 feet and the visual spectacle that they alerted people to caused widespread upset in Gotham. "They went down the Hudson, turned around and came back by the building," she said. "It was a scary scene, especially for those of us who were there on 9/11," Kathleen Seagriff, a staff assistant at the Wall Street Journal, told the Associated Press. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who regularly complains about aviation activity over Manhattan, said the panic was unnecessary. "This was a photo shoot. There was no need for surprise," Schumer said. "There was no need to scare thousands of New Yorkers who still have the vivid memory of 9/11."