Air Force One Flyover Frightens New Yorkers
An aircraft that would have been “Air Force One” except that President Obama wasn’t on board staged an ill-fated photo op in New York City yesterday morning.
It was supposed to be a photo opportunity, a showcase of Air Force One alongside the sweep of New York City skyline. But as the low-flying Boeing 747 speeded in the shadows of skyscrapers, trailed by two fighter jets, the sight instead awakened barely dormant fears of a terrorist attack, causing a momentary panic that sent workers pouring out of buildings on both sides of the Hudson River.
“I thought there was some kind of an attack,” said Paul Nadler, who sprinted down more than 20 flights of stairs after watching the plane from his office in Jersey City shortly after 10 a.m. “We ran like hell.”
In fact, the blue and white plane with “The United States of America” emblazoned on its side was one of two regularly used by the president. It was soaring above Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Jersey City so government photographers could take pictures near the Statue of Liberty for publicity purposes.
Aides to President Obama, who was not on board, said he was incensed when he learned of the event Monday afternoon. The White House later issued a formal apology.
Witnesses described the engine roar as the planes swooped by office towers close enough to rattle the windows and prompt evacuations at scores of buildings. Some sobbed as they made their way to the street.
Methinks Obama needs some better PR people, stat. And New Yorkers need to lighten up a bit; it’s been more than seven years.*
*To be clear: I don’t begrudge momentary alarm at seeing a plane where it isn’t supposed to be. But breaking down sobbing is a decided overreaction.