April 27: The appearance of the US President’s personal Boeing 747 aircraft, ‘Air Force One’, together with an accompanying F-16 flying low over Manhattan’s financial district, sparked fears among New Yorkers of a September 11-style attack, many of whom still bear the mental scars from 2001. Workers evacuated offices and the emergency services were inundated with calls.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed that the aircraft was on a photographic sortie over the Statue of Liberty, but many – including the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg – criticised the DoD for being ‘insensitive’.
The White House issued a statement by way of an apology – Louis Caldera, the Director of the White House Military Office, said: “Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. 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. I apologise and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.” President Obama, who was unaware of the sortie, was reportedly furious.