Invoking fears that another terrorist attack was underway, a low-flying plane, closely escorted by two F-16 fighter jets, was spotted over Staten Island's North Shore and New York Harbor just before 10 a.m.NY Daily News: "A perfect storm of idiocy..."
The plane, which resembled Air Force One, was a "pre-planned" military flight taking photos of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Apparently this flight was not announced to the public and understandably caused a panic in lower Manhattan. The director of the White House Military Office has taken responsibility for the flight, according to several media outlets.
Put aside for a moment the shocking lapse of reason it takes to OK an unannounced, low-flying 747 flight at the scene of the worst terrorist attack in United States history.
Why is it so important to get a picture of Air Force One that the taxpayers must bear the cost of flying two F-16's and a 747 over New York Harbor?
The New York Times provides this answer from administration officials:
The mission on Monday, officials said, was set up to create an iconic shot of Air Force One, similar to one that was taken in recent years over the Grand Canyon.I have no idea how much an F-16 flight costs. The 747s that serve as Air Force One cost about $54,000 an hour to operate, according to 2000 GAO report that I've referenced several times.
What's a brief panic and a few hundred thousand dollars when you need a new picture? Image courtesy United States taxpayers.
UPDATED from the comments: You get a good idea of the flight altitude in the video below. Thanks to the commenter and But as for Me, whose slogan is "Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty."
About the 20 second mark. The video is described as "a second pass around 30 Hudson in Jersey City, NJ," which is across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center site, according to Google maps.
Of course this could all be a cover-up/facilitator for the coming Swine Flu Pandemic, which caused 20 new cases discovered today in New York.
The Daily News reports: "no one is gravely ill, officials said today."