April 27th, 2009
01:07 PM ET
14 years ago

Presidential plane sparks evacuations in downtown NYC


Photo Credit: Getty Images/File

(CNN) – Several buildings in downtown New York were cleared as a precaution Monday morning when a military 747 accompanied by two F-16's were spotted flying low over lower Manhattan. The culprit: part of the presidential fleet.

The maneuvers were part of a photo shoot, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. An Air Force spokesperson says the plane involved was one of the two used to transport the president, also known as VC-25.

Eyewitnesses said the plane was seen circling over the Upper New York Bay in the area of the Statue of Liberty. It then flew up the Hudson River. Building evacuations also took place across the Hudson River in Jersey City.

Officegoers in lower Manhattan may have been surprised by the display, but according to an Air Force spokeswoman, local officials were not: both the FAA and local law enforcement were warned ahead of time.

Watch an iReport of the incident.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. ArtNYC

    Horible, Horrible, Horrible! Our building was totally evacuated, people panicking. It was crazy. Think of a commercial plane coming close to your building and you standing on the window watching it approach. Total chaos.

    It is not acceptable for the govt to have not sent notification before hand.

    April 27, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. colormehappy

    As someone sitting and working in the NYC financial district I find it disturbing that no one involved in the preparation of the photo op gave thought to the fear it could cause. Were any of the people involved in this photo op here on 911? Do any of you understand that it does not matter if 8 years have passed? There will be no amount of time in which the bombing of the world trade centers will be forgotten.
    Life on the ground here changed tremendously that day. Every day we now have policemen with AK-47's on corners. Security check points where there were none, bomb sniffing dogs patroling the area, practice evacuations in our buildings. It is not as if the safety factor will ever be taken for granted again. Anyone to have thought this was an appropriate spot for such a photo op without it being widely publicized must be insanely inconsiderate and thoughtless.

    April 27, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. George

    As a New Yorker, I can't believe the idiocy! This publicity stunt was obviously thought up by someone who wasn't here on 9/11. Low-flying 747s and fighter jets still bring it all back to us.

    April 27, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. Vicki

    This was irresponsible. Many people still have the Towers still very much in the back of their minds. What kind of panic could this have caused? How many people could have been trampled to death by a flurry of people running for thier lives, trying to escape what they saw as a threat? And how many car accidents could this have caused as people driving rubber neck to see what's going on?

    The people should also have been informed of this little stunt for safety reasons. Informing the FAA and police is good so they don't freak out, but what about the millions living and working there who could have been seriously injured? They need to think these thins through. Even a short message on the radio the morning of would hav e sufficed, without giveg any terrorists enough time to do something.

    April 27, 2009 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. bsmith171

    more poor judgment and WASTING fuel!

    April 27, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. BevAnn

    Very stupid move by all – the Air Force, the FAA, and "local officials". This should NOT have even been an idea to begin with, let alone one that was executed.

    To the insensitive jerks who will post things like "get over it NYC" etc., save your breath for when you have to watch people jump out of buildings, or run for cover because of falling debris, or have to walk 20 miles home despite physical ailments – you will need it then.

    Add to that, I am 7 months pregnant and did not appreciate the pain this stunt put me through. This is the most assinine decision I have experienced in years. I wish there was someone for me to slap – just one hard slap.

    April 27, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Sam I Am

    Air Force One is probably the most recognizable aircraft in the world, especially for Americans. While I understand the sensitivity New Yorkers have to big planes in their skies, you have to be kidding me. The people that caused the buildings to be evacuated are probably the same people that watch carefully when the seat belt demo is being given by the flight crew, and find it very confusing.

    April 27, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. jcow2

    Why in the world was that plane up there for a photo shoot?? That's a lot of fuel wasted and pollution – wasn't Earth Day just last week? So much for Obama's commitment to the environment.

    April 27, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  9. Reality Check

    Ok... so don't warn the public and bring back all those horrific memories of 9/11 - Way to go!

    Let's be a bit more considerate of our citizens next time – thank you!

    April 27, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  10. anita

    wasteful, tasteless b/s
    not to mention unforgivably threatening to the citizens of NYC

    April 27, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  11. dallas gal

    isn;t this how September 11 attacks happened??

    " is this real life or drill?"

    April 27, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  12. Denise in MD

    Probably would have been smart for the P.A. to have alerted the local media so they could warn area residents not to be alarmed. But i guess that would have made too much sense...

    April 27, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    Obama terrorizes Wall Street. Whats news about that?

    April 27, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Ray Fisher

    See, the government even scares the Big Apple!!!

    April 27, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Peter E

    Yawn! These kinds of military flyovers happen over many major cities all the time, there is always a scare, but nothing comes of it. This is not newsworthy.

    April 27, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Matt

    So this stimulates the economy how? Glad we are wasting money on this. Change is something you put in a big jar.

    April 27, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. A Proud Arrogant American


    April 27, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Mississippi Mike

    That's too funny. Inconveniencing hundreds or thousands of people for a photo shoot. This president has no shame.

    April 27, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. Nick, Rochester, NY

    I don't know what kind of photo-op the back up to Air Force One was involved in, but given the adverse publicity, I certainly hope Obama weaves it into one of his re-election campaign commercials.

    April 27, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. Bob in Pa

    Why do we need a photo shoot ? Do we not have enough PR shots of Air Force One ? Why are these people allowed to continue wasting our money ?

    April 27, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  21. jean

    Another prime example of the cluelessness in the Obama Administration to allow such a thing to go on with their airplane in NY after what happened on 9/11 – I am also shocked and dismayed that NYC police and other officials knew about this and did not warn the public so there was no scare involved, what a bunch. Complacency can lead to disaster – just ask Bill Clinton, I hope Obama gets a clue before it's too late.

    April 27, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  22. Canadian4Hillary

    Why was this plane flying around with F16's & the public not notified in advance??

    April 27, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  23. Kelvin

    both the FAA and local law enforcement were warned ahead of time! So why the evacuations?!

    April 27, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. Trish G.

    With Air Force One burning 9000 gallons of fuel an hour, does this represent the "conservation" and belt-tightening we're all being lectured and railroaded about ?

    April 27, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. Maureen Ilsley

    Is President Obama aware that Earth Day has just passed? Great example he is setting. Did he really just send an empty 747 on a photo shoot??

    Ok...I want my tax money back right now!

    April 27, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
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