White House apologizes over NYC plane incident

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A White House official apologized Monday after a low-level flight by a presidential jet sparked panic among New Yorkers.

For almost 30 minutes, the massive Boeing 747, trailed by two F-16 fighter jets, circled the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan skyline near the World Trade Center site.

Businesses shut down and buildings were evacuated as people on the ground waited in fear to see if another terrorist attack was underway.

But the panic turned to anger when they discovered the flyover was nothing but a photo session. The event was intended to update a stock photo of the presidential plane that is used for distribution to media.

The huge aircraft functions as Air Force One when the president is aboard.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was “furious” about the incident, criticizing those responsible for failing to warn the public.

White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera issued a brief statement saying he was to blame. Caldera said he approved the photo op and that federal authorities took the proper steps to inform state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey.

VIDEO: Jet Flyover Frightens New Yorkers