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29/04/2009 – US Air Force ‘Jumbo Jet’ Flyby Over New York City. Good Idea? Not Really
If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing a United States Air Force VC-25 fly overhead you know that it is a beautiful plane. I have had the pleasure of watching these planes land, take off and fly overhead quite a few times as a photojournalist.
Never heard of a VC-25? Sure you have…it is more commonly known as Air Force One (however it is only designated Air Force One when the President of the United States is on board). The VC-25 is a modified Boeing 747-200, converted into a ‘Flying White House.’ When not flying the President the two VC-25s are known as their tail numbers of ‘28000’ and ‘29000.’
What is the point of all of this? On Monday, the 27th of April, the United States Air Force public affairs office caused a scare in New York City when a VC-25 was flown low over New York City with an F-16 fighter escort. The flight mission over New York City was a photo opportunity for the United States Air Force’s public affairs department. As the VC-25 flew past Manhattan and flew low beside the Statue of Liberty cameras were shooting images for promotional usage.
I understand why New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg is by the Air Force photo-op. It was not the best idea to fly a large passenger jet low over Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. I understand the fear and panic in the city (I was at Ground Zero working on Sept 11 2001 as a news photographer)…but in this time of a deep national financial recession, the frustration should be directed to the cost of this promotional photo-op.
What was the cost of this photo-op? US$328,835!
According to United States Air Force public affairs spokeswoman Vicki Stein the three-hour photo mission cost taxpayers the following
– US$300,658 for the Boeing VC-25 to operate for three hours
– US$28,178 for the two General Dynamics F-16 jets, that flew for 1.8 hours
Back to the judgment issue…was it wise to fly a Boeing 747 at an altitude of 1,000 feet beside a city that is still raw from a terrorist attack that involved flying two large commercial airlines into the two tallest buildings in the city? No probably not.
This photo shoot was bad judgment from a public relations standpoint as well as from a financial standpoint.
Not be political here, because I try and keep politics off of Flying With Fish, The United States Department of Defense has failed to comply with Section 351 of Public Law 108-375 repeatedly. What is Section 351 of Public Law 108-375? It requires the implementation of a reimbursement program for members of the United States Armed Forces who have been required to purchase their own body armour or other protective, safety equipment for use in combat. How many members of the U.S. Armed Forced could the Department of Defense have reimbursed for their body armour instead of initiating a US$328,835 photo shoot?