White House apologises over Air Force One blunder

April 28th, 2009 - 8:46 am ICT by IANS  

F-16 Washington, April 28 (DPA) The White House has issued an apology after a presidential plane flying low over New York for a photo shoot left people on the ground panicking over worries a terrorist attack was underway.
The massive Boeing 747, shadowed by an F-16 fighter jet, was passing over the Hudson River at times at altitudes lower than some buildings in downtown Manhattan. Hundreds of people rushed out of their offices and onto the street Monday, fearing another Sep 11, 2001-style attack.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed outrage that he had not been informed of the flight, although the Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration said local police had been informed.

New Yorkers were later fuming that all of the panic was caused over a photo session.

“Everybody panicked,” Daisy Cooper, a Merrill Lynch worker in Jersey City, told the local NBC News channel. “Everybody was screaming and we all ran downstairs. I’m devastated … Everybody was running, we didn’t know why we were running. We just knew it was a plane, there we go, 9/11 again.”

The 747 is a look-a-like to the presidential plane and is known by the call sign Air Force One when presidents are aboard.

The director of the White House’s military office acknowledged approving the flight and apologised.

“While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, its clear that the mission created confusion and disruption,” Louis Caldera said.

“I apologise and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused,” he said.

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