April 7, 2004 (by Anonymous) - The sight of fighter jets flying over Washington, escorting what seemed like a low-flying commercial plane caused concern and speculation among tourists and office workers.
The U.S. Air Force was staging an air-to-air photo shoot involving a C-38 and C-40 escorted by two F-16 Fighting Falcons at noontime above the capital of D.C.
The C-40, a military derivative of the commercial 737, obviously looked like a commercial airliner and that heightened concern in a city where terrorists crashed a jetliner into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. After all, a "no-fly" zone has been imposed over the city since that day.
One plane was being used to take photos of the F-16 Viper for recruiting and retention purposes, with Washington's historic sites in the background.
The Air Force coordinated the mission in advance. Still, the aerial passes that took place around the National Mall caught many people by surprise in downtown Washington.
Since the terrorist attacks, fighter planes have escorted more than 1,600 commercial planes around the country but yesterday's flight, at such low altitudes and in broad daylight over the District, was highly unusual.
CNN broadcast live pictures of the planes' pass over the District, with a warning that there was no threat associated with the flights.