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"Power Hour Chatter" - April 29, 2009

This is an e-mail received at The Power Hour:

I am probably going to hate myself for even bringing this up...

But I'm in the Air Force, so I tend to notice airplaney things.

Did anyone notice in the still shots that the F-16 has a solid orange-red tail? I was ignoring this whole episode as bureaucratic buffoonery by my service until I saw that.

To my knowledge (which is pretty extensive) the only aircraft we fly with vertical stabilizers painted solid orange-red are old planes that have been converted to serve as unmanned target drones for air-to-air combat training.

Operational fighter and attack aircraft do not have brightly-painted vertical stabs of any color, except one-off temporary paint jobs for special events like air tattoos, and certainly not orange-red, which is used to loudly convey the message "Danger: Keep back! This plane has no human pilot!
(See Original photo of the fighter jet)

White House Apologizes For NYC Military Fly-By
(Source: )

Some military aircraft flying over lower Manhattan, including a Boeing 747 from the Air Force One fleet, caused a brief scare for residents, workers, and pedestrians on Monday, but CBS 2 has learned the jets were part of a Department of Defense photo shoot and that there was no threat to the city.

The head of the White House Military Office issued an apology just after 4:30 p.m.

"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 apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused," Director Louis Caldera said in a statement.

According to many callers who flooded CBS 2 HD with their concerns, at about 10 a.m. The aircraft were seen flying at low altitudes over the Statue of Liberty and parts of lower Manhattan. The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that two F-16s escorting a Boeing 747 -- which CBS 2 confirmed is also used as an Air Force One -- were part of the Department of Defense photo shoot.

 Did You See The Jets? Tell Us What You Saw & Upload Your Pictures, Video Here

Many residents and workers who saw the aircraft evacuated their buildings as a result, but officials say there is no reason for a panic.

Ellen in Bayonne, N.J. Described what she saw to WCBSTV.Com: "I saw the jet flying very very low over the Hudson river, it looked like it was going to fly through our office window. Then it banked sharply toward New Jersey. But our building was evacuated because it did this 3 times. A photo shoot should have been communicated to the building in the area. We haven't forgotten 9/11, people were in a panic, lots of rumors, not a good situation "

Most witnesses who called and wrote to CBS 2 HD and WCBSTV.Com were furious that local authorities hadn't notified anyone about the fly-over. The FAA, however, says they contacted the NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Office, New Jersey state police and other local authorities were told ahead of time about the shoot.

The NYPD told CBS 2, however, that they were instructed by the FAA not to publicize information regarding the incident.

Air Force officials say this was a photo mission for their crew. They were shooting from the Statue of Liberty to south of the Holland tunnel, as well as from the Newark Bay to north of the Staten Island Expressway.

Officials say the shoot was part of a normal training mission. They added that they do these mission quite often.

Here are some other descriptions sent in to by witnesses:

David Frank of Jersey City wrote: "I work in 30 Hudson, which is the largest building in NJ and is right on the water facing the Statue of Liberty. I ran out of the building after a stampede of people began running out of the building as they saw the jumbo jet being followed by two fighter planes veer sharply towards our building and climb right over it. By the time I got outside, it was coming around for its THIRD pass, and I watched it level off below building height over the water and then once again veer sharply towards the building. Several hundred of us began to run away fearing for our lives before it climbed steeply and flew over our building. Whoever thought that this 'photo op' was a good idea should be removed from command...why couldn't this simply be done with Photo Shop? Hollywood can create an entire armageddon on film but the US military can't photo shop a plane by the Statue of Liberty?"

Patrick Kennell of NYC wrote: "We saw a low-flying 747 buzz the Southwest edge of Manhattan, at Battery Park City, with a fighter jet appearing to chase it on its left wing. At about Rector Street or so, it took a hard left and looked to be headed straight for Jersey City. It flew over J.C., turned south, and continued to climb over Newark. It left our sight, only to return on the same path a second time about five minutes later. It was confusing and panicked the office. We dialed 9-1-1 and considered whether to evacuate. We were told by 9-1-1 that it was 'authorized' to be there. We later learned from your website, that it was part of a DOD 'photo op.' NotifyNYC advises it was 'part of an approved federal activity.' To conduct a 'photo op,' unwarned in advance to Lower Manhattan residents and workers, in that manner was completely irresponsible."

Nancy in Lower Manhattan wrote: "Our building, One New York Plaza, was evacuated, as were most of the high rises in this area. How could the US MILITARY think that NYers wouldn't be alarmed by low-flying jets? Why was the city not notified beforehand?"

Amy in Jersey City wrote: "I work in the 30 Hudson building in Jersey City on the side that faces the Statue of Liberty. Our group is on one of the top floors and needless to say we probably had some of the best views of this incident. We were conducting work as normal when all of a sudden we see this huge commercial plane coming at us. People were ducking and on the floor because it came so close. The plane flew right over us and couldn't have missed the building by more than 100 feet. Then we heard people scream it was coming back. The plane literally looked like it was going to barrel into our building coming straight at us until it turned upwards at the last minute. I can't believe I saw the underbelly of a plane fly over me. When it started coming back a 3rd time, we ran for the stairs. It's safe to say we are pretty angry about having to evacuate and go down 30+ flights of stairs for a 'photo shoot.' What a start to the week."

Stay with and CBS 2 HD for more on this developing story.






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