A U.S. presidential airplane escorted by a military fighter jet flew low over southern New York City early Monday, startling some office workers still scarred by memories of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
People fled from several buildings in New York City as the presidential 747 and the fighter escort flew low over the Statute of Liberty in what federal aviation officials later said was an approved photo opportunity.
City officials were informed of the exercise ahead of time, but they did not notify all city agencies or the general public, and the site of low flying plane caused many people to panic in the financial district of lower Manhattan.
Carmen-Maria Rodriguez was on her way to work, traveling from Staten Island to Manhattan aboard a ferry when she saw the jets roar past.
"All of a sudden there is this plane flying really low, and fighter jets around it," said Carmen-Maria Rodriguez. "Everyone is startled, because no one told anyone on the ferry to don life jackets, as was the case on 9/11."
She said when the ferry docked she was shocked to see more than a thousand people who had hastily evacuated the nearby office buildings huddled in the streets.
The plane the fighter jet was escorting is one of the Boeing 747s designated as "Air Force One" when the U.S. president is on board.