New York One of the president’s official planes and a supersonic fighter jet zoomed past the lower Manhattan skyline in a flash just as the work day was beginning Monday. Within minutes, startled financial workers streamed out of their offices, fearing a nightmarish replay of Sept. 11.
For a half-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.
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.
When told of the flight, President Barack Obama was furious, a White House official said on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.