April 27th, 2009
04:49 PM ET
7 years ago

White House caught off guard on plane incident

(CNN) - The White House appeared caught off guard Monday after a plane from the presidential fleet caused a brief panic in New York City when it appeared to be flying too low.

"I have seen some news reports, but…I don't know," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I have no information on this other than what I saw."

According to the FAA, the plane - one of two used to transport the president - was scheduled to fly low - at about 1,000 feet - over New York City as part of a photo shoot for the Defense Department.

Speaking Monday, Gibbs indicated he was unaware the plan.

"I was working on other things," he said. "You might be surprised to know I don't know every movement of Air Force One or what happens to it."

Louis Caldera, Director of the White House Military Office, issued a statement late Tuesday apologizing "for any distress that flight caused.”

Meanwhile, New York lawmakers expressed outrage over the incident, which led to a wave of building evacuations.

In a press conference with reporters earlier Monday, Bloomberg said flying a plane so low near the World Trace Center site was in "poor judgment," and said he was not informed of the plan in advance of the incident.

"Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center defies the imagination," Bloomberg said. "Had we known, I would have asked them not to."

Sen. Chuck Schumer echoed the mayor's sentiments in a separate news conference Monday afternoon, saying the Federal Aviation Administration should have notified the public to avoid panic.

Building evacuations also took place across the Hudson River in Jersey City.
"In New York, of all places, to not warn the public that one of the largest jets in the county tailed by a fighter jet is going to fly low over their communities defies logic and borders on simply being cruel."

Filed under: Robert Gibbs
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. jp,michigan

    Robert Gibbs only reports on things that the White House tells him when and how to report on them. The fly over was not a priority.

    April 27, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. Tim

    The Defense Department dropped the ball. Someone should have notified the proper authorities to avoid panic.

    April 27, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  3. TomJay

    Hey, blame it on Bush/Cheney.

    April 27, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  4. kevincollins

    Makes you wonder yet again why fighter jets out of Andrews didn't deploy on 9/11 when something a lot bigger - a frigging passenger jet! - entered that airspace before it crashed into the Pentagon.

    April 27, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  5. Tony in Maine

    And you know who will get blamed by Drudge, Cheney, Rove and Hannity and O'Reilly don't you?

    It was stupid. It was insensitive, it is not cause for the inevitable "failure of the inexperienced Obama administration" comments that will attempt to distract us from BushCo's torture – excuse me, – enhanced interrogation mess. Those who planned it, worse yet, classified it, should have written reprimands placed in their personnel files. Water boarding won't be necessary.

    April 27, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  6. Chi Town

    This Whitehouse could be caught off guard by a cup of coffee

    April 27, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Rob

    Calm down Fearmongers! So what an aircraft was flying low over NYC.

    April 27, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Moderate Democrat

    Calm down.

    Just be thankful Obama is in office, someone who actually DOES keep us safe. He hasn't had ANY planes run into buildings while he has been president. Bush and Cheney had 3 run into buildings, the fourth would have also if it hadn't been for CIVILIANS protecting us from that one (byt that time, we knew that Bush and Cheney were clueless, unable to protect us from the first three..thank you citizens for doing what Bush and Cheney could not do). If bush and cheney, or any republican for that matter, had been in office....it would have hit a building. When republicans are in office, planes hit buildings.

    April 27, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. RNC = DNC = politics as usual

    From various sources: 40,000-50,000 dollars per hour to operate Air Force One.

    For a PHOTO-OP that scared people.

    This was a bad thing so I suppose Obama has no responsibility. On the other hand there was a pretty sunrise this morning so Obama must have done that.

    April 27, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Audriana Wilkerson

    They say this was an opportunity for a photo op but I feel that it was reckless and rude. It caused the people of New York City to panic and relive 9/11.

    April 27, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  11. FL

    The Defense Department is under Democrat control now. Stupid stuff like this is bound to be happening, at the expense of our national security. No surprise here. We've been saying people would feel less safe with the Dems in control... point proven!

    I agree that it was cruel on the part of the Defense Department to subject the good people of NYC and NJ to this kind of panic. Democrats don't think things through to their logical end, and that is of course the problem with their policies in the first place.

    April 27, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. Enlightened Voter

    Well to all the republicans that will say something negative about this DON"T FORGET THE KID WHO LANDED HIS PLANE ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN WHEN bush WAS president!

    April 27, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Nick Pratt

    It was not cruel, simply stupid.

    April 27, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    That man is an absolute dummy! How can the press actually sit in front of him and listen to him without snickering? I couldn't.

    April 27, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. Kyle

    People, its Obama. You need to relax. He wanted his Plane to be photographed over NYC. Celebrity Obama apparently does not understand the significance of 9-11.

    April 27, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Mississippi Mike

    Yeah, this confirms that the Obama administration is clueless, careless or both. This bunch of clowns doesn't know what to do, all they know is that the want to make Saul Alinsky's dreams come true.

    April 27, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  17. AndyL

    Good lord, another white house blunder.

    April 27, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  18. Ryan in NYC

    This was just stunningly stupid. It's always great when I get to work to find everyone in a panic because the newswires were reporting that a large commercial jet was being escorted by military jets up the Hudson. People were worried that it's 9/11 again or that another jet is going down in the river like a few months ago.

    And then we all find out it's for this dumb excuse? And that the DoD informed some local authorities, like the FAA, but told them not to disclose this to the public because of security concerns? How about the panic that this incited? Or the loss of productivity because half of the downtown buildings evacuated?

    April 27, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Rick

    Leave it to Sgt. Schultz Gibbs.....he's knows nothing, he sees nothing!

    April 27, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  20. ArtNYC

    Gibbs, maybe you should have been aware when thousands of people evacuate buildings and are panicking inthe middle of NY and Jersey City.

    April 27, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Ernie in LA

    DUH!! Whose stupid decision was this? Maybe Obama thought this would be funny.

    April 27, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. mkielm in VA

    This was dumb of the government to do, but it will also be dumb of the press core or anyone to politicize. I was in the Met Life building on 9/11 when the first plane came zooming overhead very low seconds before it hit the WTC. I still get edgy when a plane flies overhead low – so I understand well the feelings of those in NYC/NJ today, but lets not make a big deal out of a mistake when we need to be fixing this country.

    April 27, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Larry

    These people are inept,all the care about is a photo shoot.

    April 27, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. David

    Please don't insult our intelligence. This was no "photo op" but a real situation. They just want to downplay it like they do so often so as not to cause panic. Why would a photo op endanger so many innocent lives?

    April 27, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Howard Brown

    Useful information about the NYC Fly-over that should be investigated:

    NY City Police not only new in advance from the Pentagon that the fly-over was going to take place, they refused to share the information with other agencies including the City's own Office of Emergency Management. OEM has a sophisticated communications system for informing the public about just such activities. In general, the police do not like to share information or cooperate with other agencies unless absolutely necessary because controlling information expands their power. This was not an accident, it was an intentional power-play and miscalculation. Check it out with other agencies.

    April 27, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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