April 28th, 2009
11:00 AM ET
5 years ago

Obama calls 747 flyover 'a mistake'

The huge aircraft, which functions as Air Force One when the president is aboard, was taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot.
The huge aircraft, which functions as Air Force One when the president is aboard, was taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama Tuesday said Monday's low flyover of a Boeing 747 above the New York City skyline, which frightened workers and residents into evacuating buildings, had been a "mistake."

"It was a mistake," he told reporters. "It was something we found out about along with all of you. And it will not happen again."

The huge aircraft, which functions as Air Force One when the president is aboard, was taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot, the Federal Aviation Administration told CNN.

"Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision," said Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office. "While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption."

Witnesses reported seeing the plane circle over the Upper New York Bay near the Statue of Liberty before flying up the Hudson River. It was accompanied by two F-16s.

Two officials told CNN the White House Military Office was trying to update its file photos of Air Force One. The officials said the president was angry when he learned Monday afternoon about the flight, which sparked fear in the New York-New Jersey area.

'The president was furious about it," one of the officials told CNN.

The incident outraged many New Yorkers, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"First thing is, I'm annoyed - furious is a better word - that I wasn't told," he said, calling the aviation administration's decision to withhold details about the flight "ridiculous" and "poor judgment."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. bill

    yes the fly over was stupid. But instead of a coverup-the public deserves to know the name and address of whoever it was that authorized it. I sure would like to know.

    April 28, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Ken in NC

    I do not blame President Obama for this incident but it is funny that many are calling this incident "Criminal". They don't see the torture of prisoners at Gitmo as criminal while we have put people on trial for torture in the past and sentenced them to death.

    It's all about which way the wind is blowing when you open your eyes and that is sad.

    April 28, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. Mississippi Mike

    Two things here: 1. It was a mistake 2. Obama is doing a pretty lousy job running the show. This is exactly what you'd expect from an inexperienced ideologue who still hasn't bothered to fill his cabinet yet. This is exactly what Obama's opposition expected from him all along and hopefully the rest of the country will wake up to the fact that he is a hard-core radical who can't get anything right.

    April 28, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    This is the same as you or me going into a crowded place and screaming fire. It is a crime and this fool is going to get away with it. What they did was criminal, no two ways about it. Obama had nothing to do with it and should not be held responsible, but if we are to think of him as one that will protect the people then he should fire all how are responsible for this flight.

    April 28, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Franky

    Ohhh what happen New York, I thought you guys are too cool and too tough. Come on tough guy, you wanna be the badass m---– and have the money and capitalism, then stand up to yourself. Good lord we got L.A and San Fran to protect us from the West and lord knows what will happen this time...they'll probably shoot at the sky again for crying out loud, LOL!! And once again, we in Chicago gotta protect you all over again...come on New York, you can do better than your twin brother California and I'm sure you'll at least hit something for crying out loud, LOL!!

    April 28, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. Jimmy Boy

    And this guy has control over the military?????? "Oops" is not what I want to here from the Commander and Chief, and we are hearing it a lot from Obama. Not to mention all the appologies he feels Americans owe the world.

    April 28, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. Jackie in Dallas

    For all those who are quick to criticize the President about this...it was not his decision, the decision maker has apologized, and there are more important issues to discuss. However, I figure that a few more hundred party of No'ers will post.

    The chief problem I see is not the use of New York in the background, but that the photo op wasn't done under an easy cover that New Yorkers could understand. It could have easily been kept secure by saying that it was a photo shoot for a movie (which is done all the time in New York). Seems that the real disconnect is that the police commissioner - who WAS informed - didn't bother to inform the Mayor's office.

    Love the fact that a "former Bush aide" is screaming felony stupidity, when the list of actual felonies done by their own administration appears to be growing!

    April 28, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. C W

    What really amazes me is how Republicans are trying to politicize this event. Caldera, who made the decision to do this (not President Obama, as the Repubs would want you to think) has taken responsibility for his actions, admitted his mistake and apologized.

    Caldera is human and made a mistake, one I'm sure he'll never forget. He didn't do it because he's part of a Democratic administration; he didn't do it because he's forgotten 9/11; he did it because he made a dumb mistake.

    To everyone out there who'll deperately try to use this as yet another reason President Obama is "destroying our country", I say, give it up, get a life, and start being part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    April 28, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. Tom Paine

    Duh. Gee, ya think Obama? Nice move.

    April 28, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Diane

    The feds apparently didn't think the Mayor was a local authority. Sheesh! This is one thing that should have been advertised in the paper and on tv so that the public would have known what was going on. Since the President was not on the plane, no security breach would have occurred in alerting the public.

    April 28, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. drew

    sounds like obama is out of control of his own staff . begs the question. are EITHER of them qualified for their job. You be the judge!

    April 28, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  12. Airforce None

    Yikes. That guy should surely be fired. Also, you should swap out the Getty image you used, it's of a 737, not a 747. If you're looking to have accurate news stories, and a picture paints a thousand words, choose the right image.

    April 28, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  13. Dave

    Holy smoke! Do they really think we are this stupid???? That was no photo op. This is their sorry excuse...a photo op? This was no photo op but a real situation happening. They would not do a dangerous fly over of NYC that puts thousands of lives at risk for a photo op. i would not be the least bit surprised if BO was actually on the plane and defensive measures were employed and they want to downplay it to the public.

    April 28, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  14. SLM

    A "mistake".......................Ya Think!! And the president knew nothing about it

    April 28, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  15. PatC

    Obama authorized it. Sitting around doing nothing is the same as authorizing. When is Obama going to pay back to the US citizens the money for this stunt.

    April 28, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  16. Myassis Dragon

    Francis Townsend, a CNN security contributor, called the fly-over "crass insensitivity" Tuesday on CNN's American Morning. "And, frankly, as I would say as a former prosecutor, I would call this felony stupidity," the lawyer and former Bush homeland security adviser added.

    But the torture at Abu Ghraib, ordered by Bush and Cheney, was deemed just bad judgment.

    April 28, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Tien

    He didn't know? Or his Chief of Staff didn't know? I don't buy it. He needs Airforce I to travel. How do they not know that it isn't available that day because of a photo op.

    April 28, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. AndyL

    How long will it take the nation to realize Obama was a mistake

    April 28, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Larry

    What was the "carbon footprint" that this photo shoot cost the world in the form of global warming ? How about the fuel cost ?How about the government employee cost ?

    April 28, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  20. GEORGE

    Not only was that flight stupid and ill conceived, the second flight scheduled to fly over Washington DC just adds to the stupidity.

    Two cities, struck by terrorist planes, are selected for a "photo op?"

    And, in addition, has anyone asked what those photo ops would cost? Why does the White House or Defense Department need photos of Air Force One flying low over two cities hit by terrorists ?

    Ever heard of Photo Shop Pro you idiots. The same photos could be created on a computer by my 13 year old. But then our politicians don't care about the cost. Just raise our taxes a little more to pay for publicity photos.

    Not one brain among those involved. Time for pink slips. Join the ranks of 10 million other Americans out of work for your costly and utterly stupid decision.

    Anyone really realize the traumatic effect you just had on thousands of New Yorkers (some of which witnessed 9/11 first hand). Look at the You Tube videos and see and hear the panic in those people.

    Time for a personal apology to the people of New York, Mr. President, and an apology to the people of America for wasting out tax dollars for publicity purposes. The buck stops with you, even it you did not know directly about the flight.

    April 28, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Anna, Missouri

    This was approved by a Bush appointee. He needs to lose his job for trying to make the President look bad. Anyone with a brain would not have approved this. I can't help but believe that he intentionally tried to make President Obama look bad. All of the people that Bush let tunnel into positions in the government should be fired. As for Republicans trying to make this an issue, every journalist that lets them make comments without following it up with the question about it being a Bush appointee is not doing their job.

    April 28, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. shelby

    Hasn't the administration ever heard of photoshop?A whole lot cheaper and a lot less threatening than what the geniuses did yesterday.

    April 28, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. dennis

    Galactic-class stupidity.

    The President should FIRE the idiot who came up with this idea. We don't need such "great thinkers" in Government service.

    April 28, 2009 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. single mom

    Caldera says that the appropriate steps were taken to notify city and state authorities. Then why did Bloomberg say he had no idea? Caldera needs to produce a copy of a letter or e-mail and when it was sent. If it was sent last Friday, then he gave no one time to react, much less get the letter.
    This was wrong on so many levels – Fraud, Waste and Abuse; shows a total communication break-down between the feds and state/city levels; but most of all, it shows a TOTAL lack of thought process by the White House.

    April 28, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. lynn in NM

    Is there a complete brain anywhere in DC????

    April 28, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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