Washington, Apr. 30 (ANI): Flying the presidential jet over lower Manhattan for a photo op cost far more than the 328,835 dollars the Air Force says it spent.
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's office was quoted by Fox News as saying it did not have hard numbers yet on how much the city had to spend to deal with the panic caused when a backup jet to Air Force One, accompanied by two F-16 fighter jets, flew around for approximately 30 minutes for a photo shoot commissioned by the White House Military Office.
The city's 911 operators were inundated with phone calls as residents of New York and New Jersey looked out their windows to see a jumbo jet and two fighters circling lower Manhattan where nearly 3,000 people were killed in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The New York Police Department said there were an estimated 97 calls to 911 about the flyover in a one-hour span. That is an increase of about 15 percent from a typical hour.
Across New York Harbor, ambulances and police officers in Jersey City, N.J., were deployed to Exchange Plaza after the city received 13 emergency calls requesting information or medical assistance, said city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill.
The cost extended beyond municipal government to lost hours for New York and New Jersey businesses, as workers streamed out of their offices in panic.
In lower Manhattan a number of companies ordered their employees to evacuate after seeing the Air Force One backup plane fly past their high-rise windows.
In the World Financial Center complex alone, at least two of the four towers, representing some 20, 000 office workers, were partially evacuated, said Melissa Copley, a spokeswoman for Brookfield Properties, which manages the buildings.
The lack of a public warning on the flyover prompted outrage from both Bloomberg and President Obama, who both said they were unaware of the photo-op.
The Air Force said the three-hour mission to New York was considered part of its training schedule and would have been flown regardless of the photo-op. (ANI)