Apparently some numskull in the FAA decided that it was a good idea to have a massive 747, painted in the colors of Air Force One, fly around lower Manhattan for a photo op, followed by an Air Force F-16, somehow forgetting that Manhattanites are terrified by the sight of ANY airliner flying relatively close to the ground these days, thinking of 9/11. People left their jobs, panicking as they wandered the streets, using their cellphone cameras and videos to get a shot of the next terrorist target being impacted.
The usual recriminations are going on and someone at the FAA will probably lose their head over it. Of course, this whole mess begs more than a few questions, like:
1. Why didn't someone simply make an announcement to the various media in NYC telling them about the photo op well in advance and make it sound like a good time to be had by all instead of saying "Surprise!"? They might as well have painted Osama Bin Laden's picture on the side of the 747 with the words "You're Next!" for all the good it did.
2. I get that New Yorkers are a bit on the sensitive side about the appearance of an airliner flying around their burg seemingly being chased by a fighter but, on the other hand, it WAS Air Force One (well, a look-alike, anyway) after all. You think they'd have looked just a LITTLE closer to figure that one out.
A few years ago one of the Space Shuttles was returning from a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on the back of a NASA 747 and arrangements were made for it to use up a bit of avgas by flying over our fair city. I was coming home from work and saw folks pulling over on an Interstate overpass and realized what was coming, so I pulled over and gazed at the massive beast (which does look rather like something prehistoric mating in mid-air) and really wished I'd remembered to bring my camera that day.
It's too bad such a sight has become something so fearful instead of something wonderous.