'Air Force One' buzzed New York City today. Technically it was not Air Force One since the plane only receives that designation when the President is on board, but it was part of the Air Force One fleet. The plane, trailed by an F-16 jet fighter, flew as low as 150 feet off the ground.
As you would imagine, this caused mass panic and evacuations as people instantly thought back to 9/11. All this was done for a photo op. Did anyone think using a helicopter might be more appropriate? How about just warning people this was about to happen? Most people could not see the plane clearly enough to know that it was part of the Air Force One fleet. They just saw a rather large plane flying low to the ground. It was not a big leap to think 9/11 repeat, especially because this was taking place in New York City. This really takes a special kind of stupidity to think it was a good idea.
The Pentagon told local authorities but told them they could not share the information with the public. Seriously, did they think no one would notice? While they did tell some people, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was not informed.
""I'm annoyed -- furious is a better word -- that I wasn't told," Mr. Bloomberg said, calling the photo opportunity "ill considered" and "badly conceived." He added that the federal government's decision to stage such an event near the World Trade Center "defies good judgment." He added that if he had known about the decision he would have worked to get it reversed."
Director Louis Caldera (head of the White House Military Office) issued an apology around 4:30pm while claiming responsibility for ordering the photo op (http://wcbstv.com/local/military.jets.nyc.2.995375.html).
Video embedded below. (from http://www.nypost.com/seven/04272009/news/regionalnews/obama_plane_photo_op_startles_new_yorker_166470.htm)
President Obama is reportedly furious over this incident (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/04/president-ob-28.html). Is that supposed to mean that no one told Obama about this despite the order coming out of the White House Military Office?
Here are some more videos. The first is a compilation of from different angles and likely different cameras. The second shows people running in the streets after evacuating their buildings thinking this was another terrorist attack.
Videos embedded below. (from http://hotair.com/archives/2009/04/27/smart-power-pentagon-freaks-out-new-york-with-low-altitude-fly-by)
Update (4/28/2009): More at Berman Post: More on The 'Air Force One' Photo-Op.