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Flight bringing troops home stirs fear over NYC

The plane taxis on a runway at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday.
The plane taxis on a runway at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The FAA said it would no longer allow overflights of Manhattan after a charter jet carrying troops home from the war with Iraq flew low over the skyline Wednesday, stirring fears that another terror attack was under way.

"The FAA regrets any negative effect this flight had on some New York City residents. The FAA has since issued an order that future, similar requests will not be granted," the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement late Wednesday.

Continental Airlines Flight 3021, bringing military personnel back from Operation Iraqi Freedom, buzzed the skyline around 8:30 a.m., flying near the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan, where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The FAA said the pilots of the plane had requested the fly-by and it was approved "to provide a special homecoming for members of our armed forces." It said such requests had been approved in the past for troops coming to and from the Afghanistan war theater.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted the FAA for allowing the flight.

"Considering the world we live in and New York City's recent history, one would expect a little more concern, sensitivity and notice from the FAA when they authorize a plane to fly at that altitude over lower Manhattan," he said in a statement.

Several residents called 911, reporting the plane flying low overhead.

One resident said he immediately thought of September 11 and the recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia and wondered, "Could it be happening again?"

"It was a terrible, terrible feeling," he said.

John Lind told CNN-affiliate WABC, "The plane flew right past us, but down the river headed south. It made three crazy loops."

The flight eventually landed safely at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.


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