[i]An Air Force One lookalike, the backup plane for the one regularly used by the president, flew low over parts of New York and New Jersey on Monday morning, accompanied by two F-16 fighters, so Air Force photographers could take pictures high above the New York harbor.
But the exercise ? conducted without any notification to the public ? caused momentary panic in some quarters and led to the evacuation of several buildings in Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. […]
Unaware of the planned exercise, scores of office workers flooded out of buildings, worried about the prospect of terrorism.
?People came pouring out of the buildings, the American Express Building, all the buildings in the financial district by the water,? said Edward Acker, a photographer who was at the building, 3 World Financial Center. ?And even the construction guys over by 100 North End Avenue area, they all got out of their buildings. Nobody knew about it. Finally some guy showed up with a little megaphone to tell everyone it was a test, but the people were not happy. The people who were here 9/11 were not happy.?
Mr. Acker added: ?New York City police were standing right there and they had no knowledge of it. The evacuations were spontaneous. Guys from the floor came out, and one guy I talked to was just shaking.?
Even the markets dipped shortly after 10 a.m., though it was unclear if the alarm over the planes was a factor. Starting at 10:02 a.m., three main market indexes started dropping precipitously. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 40 points in 10 minutes, starting 10:15 a.m., before it rebounded more than 50 points.
In Jersey City, construction workers were evacuated from a condominium tower under construction at 77 Hudson Street.
The workers, who were on the 32nd floor of the construction site, said the plane circled three times past the Goldman Sachs tower, the tallest building in New Jersey. On the second pass, they said, the jet appeared to be only a few dozen feet from the building ? close enough to clip the side of the skyscraper. A fighter followed right behind, mirroring its moves.
The construction site as were other buildings in downtown Jersey City, including offices in the Exchange Place financial complex.
Carlina Rivera, 25, who works at an educational services company on the 22nd floor of 1 Liberty Plaza, said her co-workers were spooked in part because their offices are so close to the site of the 9/11 attack. ?As soon as someone saw how close it got to the buildings, people literally ran out,? she said. ?Probably about 80 percent of my office left within two minutes of seeing how close it got to our building.?
Ms. Rivera, who was a high school student in the East Village when the 9/11 attack occurred, added, ?I did feel a little bit foolish for staying in the office while everyone left.?
Ms. Rivera said eventually there was a message made over the public announcement system that the plane was an advertisement for a movie ? which she said that did not coincide with what they were reading online about the plane taking pictures of the Statue of Liberty. ?It was a little confusing. What was the truth?? she said.
Ms. Rivera continued: ?Of course, everyone had to take out their cellphones and say, ?You can come back, it?s O.K.? Eventually they returned with some sort of comfort food. We feel like we should have at least been warned.?
At 1 Liberty Plaza, according to another person who works in Lower Manhattan, a loudspeaker announcement said at 10:55 a.m., ?Planes were observed flying low over Lower Manhattan, but were part of an approved federal action.?
Johnny Villafane, 42, of the Upper West Side, said, ?The plane did a 360. There was a vibration. The glass in the skyscrapers was shivering.? He added, ?It sounded like the building were cracking, everything started shaking. I thought the plane was coming down.?
Sidney Bordley, a floor director in an office building at 1 Battery Park Place, said, ?People were running out of the office, claiming they saw a commercial flight being pursued by F-16?s.? He added, ?There was some confusion and a little excitement.?
A group of financial services workers, who were gathered outside the same building but declined to give their names, described their reactions. ?I saw the landing gear and I was out of here,? one said. Another said: ?There were people in my elevator, sweating and shaking. There were women
crying. It was not an experience to be taken lightly.?[/i]