Panic-Inducing Scene May Play Out in D.C.

A photo shoot gone wrong. . . coming soon to a skyline near you?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A fighter plane and a presidential jet, known as Air Force One when the president is on board, buzzed over lower Manhattan today.

    A high-tech photo shoot had the unintended consequence of sending thousands of New Yorkers running for their lives Monday morning -- and it turns out a similar stunt is planned for our area next week.

    A presidential plane -- one of the Boeing 747s known as Air Force One when the president is on board -- flew low in the skies over lower Manhattan Monday morning, accompanied by an F-16 fighter jet.  The goal: to get pictures of the presidential plane with Lady Liberty in the background. The side effect: the photo shoot created a scene with striking similarities to 9/11, as the jet swooped over Ground Zero, far too close to New York City buildings for workers who had no idea about the plan.

    Video Shows Panic When Plane Buzzes NYC

    [NY] Video Shows Panic When Plane Buzzes NYC
    This amateur video is the only footage that captures the sheer panic on the streets as a presidential plane buzzed past the Statue of Liberty Monday, sending residents and workers scrambling. (Published Monday, Apr 27, 2009)

    Thousands poured into the streets, unsure of what was happening.

    "It was a mistake, as was stated," President Barack Obama said at FBI headquarters Tuesday morning. "It was something we found out about along with all of you and it will not happen again."

    Washingtonians could be in for a similar site next week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The White House planned to have one of the presidential planes fly over Washington on May 5 or 6, using the Capitol as a backdrop for the picture. Sources say that plan may be reconsidered, given Monday's reaction.

    "Everybody panicked and we were devastated," Manhattan office worker Daisy Cooper said. "All I could do was scream. You know, tell everybody to get out. Everyone was running. We didn't know why we were running, we just knew there was a plane and there you go -- 9/11 again."

    As it turns out, the flyover was kept secret on purpose. Local and state authorities in New York and New Jersey were informed of the plan last week, but for security reasons, were asked not to release the information to the public.

    The plan was a surprise to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said he was "furious," and that allowing the flyover showed "poor judgment."

    Louis Caldera, the director of the White House Military Office, has taken responsibility for the mass hysteria in Manhattan. In a statement, he apologized for the "confusion and disruption."