FAA Says No to Flight of Small Navy Plane Over Manhattan

By David B. Caruso
Associated Press
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NEW YORK, May 11 -- The Federal Aviation Administration turned down a U.S. Navy request to fly a patrol aircraft past Manhattan on Monday, two weeks after an Air Force photo shoot over the Statue of Liberty caused a brief panic.

The agency said it refused clearance for the flight down the Hudson River because the Navy had given only a few hours' notice of its plans.

The P-3 Orion reconnaissance plane, from the U.S. Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, was to have flown past the city, then headed back north, sometime around 10:30 a.m.

FAA officials acknowledged that the four-engine turboprop plane had a low probability of attracting attention. It was to have flown no lower than 3,000 feet, well above New York City's tallest skyscrapers, in an air corridor where planes of a similar size are a common sight.

But after city officials were informed and higher-level FAA officials learned about the request, they declined permission for the flight, saying unannounced military flybys were a bad idea.

Two weeks ago, office workers near the World Trade Center site and across the river in New Jersey ran for cover when a Boeing 747 sometimes used as Air Force One circled the harbor at 1,000 feet with a fighter jet in tow. The photo shoot became a scandal and led to the resignation of the White House official who authorized it.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) said the city did not ask for the flight to be canceled.

"We did get on the phone with them and said we'd prefer to have had a little more time to notify everybody," he said.

Bloomberg said it was his understanding that the flight was for "some Navy guy who was retiring after many years of service, and they wanted him to take one last flyby."

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