April 27th, 2009
04:49 PM ET
12 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. Air Traffic Control

    It's all about the photo ops ...

    April 27, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. chuck

    it dont get no dumber than this

    April 27, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Tim

    Let me reiterate, the relevant questions are who approved and why. Again, let me know if you need any help understanding journalism.

    April 27, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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