Military Flight Over N.Y. Canceled
By Dan Eggen
Whew, that was close.
Two weeks after an Air Force jetliner terrified New Yorkers with a low-level flight over Manhattan, the Federal Aviation Administration halted plans this morning for another unscheduled military flight down the Hudson River, officials said.
The U.S. Naval Air Station at Brunswick, Maine, alerted FAA officials at about 7:30 a.m. that it wanted to fly a P-3 Orion reconnaissance plane along the Hudson as part of a training mission to start at 10:30 a.m. But senior FAA officials soon nixed the idea after deciding the Navy had not provided sufficient advance notice of its plans, according to FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.
Brown said FAA protocol calls for at least 48 hours notice for such flights in order to ensure that local officials are prepared. "We wanted to make sure that everything was done properly," she said.
The near-miss flight comes on the heels of an incident April 27 in which a Boeing 747 that is used as Air Force One flew over the Hudson accompanied by fighter jets as part of a publicity photo shoot. The flyover, which occurred at about 1,000 feet in proximity to the World Trade Center site, caused a panic among onlookers who believed that another 9/11-style terrorist attack was taking place.
The official responsible for the fiasco, Louis Caldera, resigned as head of the White House Military Office on Friday following an internal review that found lax procedures for the use of presidential aircraft.
Unlike two weeks ago, federal officials notified the office of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg about today's initial Navy request. Bloomberg told reporters that the city did not request a cancellation but said it would prefer more than a couple of hours' notice.
Brown and other U.S. officials note that the reconnaissance plane would have been flying 2,000 feet higher than the Air Force One flight, meaning that it likely would not have stood out from other commercial flights that crisscross the area, and also is a propeller aircraft. But Brown said the FAA felt it was best to cancel the flight out of an abundance of caution given the recent flyover scare.
"It's not our preferred way of doing business," Brown said, referring to the short notice given by the Navy unit.
Posted at 5:55 PM ET on May 11, 2009
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