A number of buildings in New York City were evacuated Monday morning after a trio of low-flying planes flew near the Statue of Liberty.
“An Air Force One lookalike, the backup plane for the one regularly used by the president, flew low over Manhattan on Monday morning, accompanied by two F-16 fighters, so Air Force photographers could take pictures,” the New York Times reports. “But a lack of awareness about the flyover led to the evacuation of several buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City, N.J., and 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 in the area.”
“It is pre-planned, pre-coordinated with everyone involved,” FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. “It’s a military flight over New York to take photos.”
Peters added, “We’ve gotten reports several buildings in Jersey City were evacuated.”
One eyewitness told the New York Times, “People came pouring out of the buildings, the American Express Building, all the buildings in the Financial District by the water. And even the construction guys over by 100 North End Avenue area, they all got out of their buildings. Nobody knew about it. Finally some guy showed up with a little megaphone to tell everyone it was a test, but the people were not happy. The people who were here 9/11 were not happy. New York City police were standing right there and they had no knowledge of it. The evacuations were spontaneous. Guys from the floor came out, and one guy I talked to was just shaking.”
One NYC television station received a number of phone calls from New York City residents “furious that local authorities hadn’t notified anyone about the fly-over.”
“According to many callers who flooded CBS 2 with their concerns, at about 10 a.m. the aircraft were seen flying at low altitudes over the Statue of Liberty and parts of lower Manhattan,” WCBS reports.
One sample follows: “We saw a low-flying 747 buzz the Southwest edge of Manhattan, at Battery Park City, with a fighter jet appearing to chase it on its left wing. At about Rector Street or so, it took a hard left and looked to be headed straight for Jersey City. It flew over J.C., turned south, and continued to climb over Newark. It left our sight, only to return on the same path a second time about five minutes later. It was confusing and panicked the office. We dialed 9-1-1 and considered whether to evacuate. We were told by 9-1-1 that it was ‘authorized’ to be there. We later learned, from your website, that it was part of a DOD ‘photo op.’ NotifyNYC advises it was ‘part of an approved federal activity.’ To conduct a ‘photo op,’ unwarned in advance to Lower Manhattan residents and workers, in that manner was completely irresponsible.”
Newsday notes, “About 1,000 workers gathered along the Hudson River esplanade until a security officer with a bullhorn told them it was a planned exercise.”
“After the incident, New York City released an advisory that the flyover was ‘part of an approved federal activity,’” Reuters reports.
However, a city official revealed that the NYPD had been advised not to warn the public.
The Times reports, “Later on Monday morning, the Police Department acknowledged 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.”
A New York Post article claims, “The mayor’s office was told the jets would only buzz the Statue of Liberty once, and not fly over downtown three times, a source said.”
“Had we known, we would have pushed back,” the source said, according to the NYC tabloid.