Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Poor Second Guy

As is normally the case, it is the second person who throws a punch that gets in trouble. You’ve seen that happen in football games, right? A player gets angry, punches another player, who then retaliates for the punch. The first player rarely gets caught (except on video tape) and the second player almost always gets punished.

Well, it would seem that the US Navy is “that second guy.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) turned down a U.S. Navy request to fly a patrol aircraft past Manhattan on Monday, two weeks after a nerve-racking 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 it 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 head back north, sometime around 10:30 a.m. FAA officials said the four-engine, turboprop admittedly had a low probability of attracting attention. It was to have flown no lower than 3,000 feet, well above New York'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. After the FAA alerted the mayor’s office in the morning that the flight would take place, the city sent out a public notification warning that a military plane would be in the air. Shortly thereafter, the FAA told the Navy the mission was off.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg 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.”

Now, of course, the Navy is disputing the Mayor’s claim about honoring someone retiring. I doubt we’ll ever know the real truth. But, this time, the Navy can blame the White House for throwing the first punch (flying Air Force One over the city unannounced) and then them getting punished for actually going through the official process to fly over the city—whether or not the fly was for a good purpose or not, they got punished because they came along second.

Wonder how long the watchful eye of the FAA and media will be watching the skies of New York City?

1 comment:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can't wait to read what you have written.