HERE'S an account of the incident from The New York Times:
An Air Force One lookalike, the backup plane for the one regularly used by the president, flew low over parts of New York and New Jersey on Monday morning, accompanied by two F-16 fighters, so Air Force photographers could take pictures high above the New York harbor.I WONDER whether the Air Force photographers had long-enough lenses to catch a few shots of panicked New Yorkers having coronaries?
But the exercise — conducted without any notification to the public — caused momentary panic in some quarters and led to the evacuation of several buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. By the afternoon, the situation had turned into a political fuse box, with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg saying that he was “furious” that he had not been told in advance about the flyover and the White House facing questions about it. In unusually harsh language, the mayor criticized the Defense Department for conducting the exercise and the Federal Aviation Administration for being secretive about it.
The flyover, which began around 10 a.m., resulted in widespread confusion and a flood of calls to emergency hot lines. Perplexed officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and other authorities were inundated with calls from anxious ferry passengers, office workers and residents.
The mayor said the Police Department and someone in his administration – he did not say who – received an e-mail from the Federal Aviation Administration late on Thursday, informing them that there would be “a fly-by for a photo-op, as they described it.”
However, Mr. Bloomberg said he was not apprised of the flyover until his BlackBerry started buzzing this morning with messages from people asking if he knew what was going on. He characterized it as a breakdown in communication that “will never happen again.”
“First thing is, I’m annoyed – furious is a better word – that I wasn’t told,” he said at a City Hall news conference held to discuss the swine flu cluster in Queens.
Jim Peters, an F.A.A. spokesman, said “the photo op was approved and coordinated with everyone.” Notification was made in advance to the mayor’s office, “including its 911 and 311 operation centers,” the New York City Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the United States Park Police and other agencies, he said.
The Police Department confirmed that it had been notified about the event but said it had been barred from alerting the public. “The flight of a VC-25 aircraft and F-16 fighters this morning was authorized by the F.A.A. for the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it but to direct any inquiries to the F.A.A. Air Traffic Security Coordinator,” the Police Department said in a statement.
The mayor criticized the secrecy around the flyover. The e-mail notification “did have the normal language of saying this is sensitive information, should be distributed on a need-to-know basis, that they did not plan to have any publicity about it, which I think is ridiculous and just poor judgment,” Mr. Bloomberg said.
Can you imagine? The Air Force has this brilliant idea to fly a jumbo jet low over New York and buzz several skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty. They coordinate with the FAA, which apparently is OK with the idea.
Then the FAA notifies an office at City Hall, but orders the New York bureaucrats not to tell anyone.
Your government at work, folks.
When I consider all the gathering storms out there that only the federal government is big enough to deal with, the words that come to mind are "Be afraid. Be very afraid."
OF COURSE one might wish to take a more proactive stance. As in, "Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye."
Do it now, before you're way too woozy from the swine flu.