It was supposed to be a photo opportunity, a showcase of Air Force One alongside the sweep of New York City skyline.
But as the low-flying Boeing 747 speeded in the shadows of skyscrapers, trailed by two fighter jets, the sight instead awakened barely dormant fears of a terrorist attack, causing a momentary panic that sent workers pouring out of buildings on both sides of the Hudson River.
“I thought there was some kind of an attack,” said Paul Nadler, who sprinted down more than 20 flights of stairs after watching the plane from his office in Jersey City shortly after 10 a.m. “We ran like hell.”
In fact, the blue and white plane with “The United States of America” emblazoned on its side was one of two regularly used by the president. It was soaring above Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Jersey City so government photographers could take pictures near the Statue of Liberty for publicity purposes.
Aides to President Obama, who was not on board, said he was incensed when he learned of the event Monday afternoon. The White House later issued a formal apology.
Witnesses described the engine roar as the planes swooped by office towers close enough to rattle the windows and prompt evacuations at scores of buildings. Some sobbed as they made their way to the street.
“As soon as someone saw how close it got to the buildings, people literally ran out,” said Carlina Rivera, 25, who works at an educational services company on the 22nd floor of 1 Liberty Plaza, adjacent to the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. “Probably about 80 percent of my office left within two minutes of seeing how close it got to our building.”
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) recently speculated that President Barack Obama's family could have conspired to fake his citizenship by announcing his birth with a "telegram from Kenya."
During a tele-townhall event recorded last week, King was asked why Read more...