HUFFINGTON POST

Plane Circling Lower Manhattan Is A "Photo Op," FAA Says UPDATED VIDEO

***UPDATE*** The Director of the White House Military Office released this statement apologizing the "confusion and disruption" caused by the flight over lower Manhattan.

Statement from Louis Caldera, Director White House Military Office, on Air Force One flight over New York

Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.

New York City Mayor Bloomberg was furious about the incident. Watch below.

***UPDATE*** Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the White House was unaware that there would be 747 flying low over Manhattan in a staged photo op that led to some buildings being evacuated as memories of 9/11 rose to the surface.

[WATCH]

***UPDATE*** From AP:

A government exercise involving low-flying planes has created a panic in New York City.

Two fighter jets escorted a low-flying Boeing 747 over lower Manhattan on Monday as part of a federal government photo opportunity.

That's the same part of town where hijacked passenger jets crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

John Leitner, a trader at the New York Mercantile Exchange building, says people began running outside when they saw the planes around 10 a.m.

About 1,000 workers gathered along the Hudson River until a security officer told them it was a planned exercise.

Leitner says workers got no official advance notice. But the FAA says it notified city law enforcers.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a plane escorted by fighter jets was circling Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. They obtained a statement from an FAA spokesman who said there was no emergency and that the incident was part of a "photo op."

The New York Post has more information. Apparently, the aircraft is a backup plane for President Obama and the city notified businesses about the staged photo but not the general public.

The plane is a backup for Air Force One and the Department of Transport "coordinated the flight with FAA and we made the notifications to the city so they were aware that the flight would take place between 10 and 10:30 this morning."

Readers in New York, did you see the plane flying at low altitude this morning? If you managed to snap a picture, send it to us at photos@huffingtonpost.com with your name in the subject line.

Watch video of the incident below.