I don’t want to waste your time re-telling a story you’ve been recently bombarded with in all aspects of the media. Therefore, I won’t. However, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here so I’d like to challenge you to recognize it, share it, and learn from it to avoid future distress for you and your organization. By the way, this issue has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with leadership at a variety of different levels so let’s agree NOT to point fingers at either political party or any one political figure. You’ll soon see why.
I’m certain the recent Boeing 747 New York City flyover didn’t have the impact on the majority of this country as it did on the people of Manhattan and Jersey City. Can you imagine having survived the horrific attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on 9-11? Many New Yorkers have yet to recover from that nightmare. And yet, millions of New Yorkers (population: 9,428,000) were suddenly exposed to the vision of a giant Boeing 747 followed closely by two accompanying F-16 fighter jets, flying frighteningly close to the lower Manhattan skyline near the Statue of Liberty and the previous site of the World Trade Center. What would you think at that moment? An unbelievable number of workers and residents evacuated buildings in both New York and New Jersey fearing another attack. People were running, crying, and panicking as they shouted “Run, run,” “Oh, my God,” and some expletives.
All of this you’ve heard in great detail. Let’s consider some other factors.
Why Did this Occur?
These two planes were taking part in a classified, government-sanctioned photo shoot. The White House Military Office was trying to update its file photos of Air Force One and wanted shots of the plane over the New York skyline and especially the Statue of Liberty. What were they thinking? DreamWorks, Pixar Studios, Sony or a college student using software like Photoshop could have, in minutes, produced a convincing image, superimposing a shot of Air Force one over a picture of the Statue of Liberty without ever leaving the ground! By the way, this ill-fated flight cost taxpayers $328,835 … well over a quarter of a million dollars! What were they thinking?
Who Knew about It in Advance?
- White House Military Office
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- U.S. Air Force officials
- Department of Defense
- Senate’s Armed Services Committee
- Andrews Air Force Base
- Mayor Bloomberg’s office
- New York Police Department
- New York City Hall
- The United States Park Police
- New York state and local authorities
- New Jersey state and local authorities
Who Had Absolutely No Advance Warning?
Nine million, four hundred twenty-eight thousand, six hundred and forty-two traumatized citizens (9,428,000)!
- Browse the list of responsible organizations listed above which were aware of this scheduled flight.
- How many positions of leadership do you think might exist within those official organizations?
- Of that very large number of leaders, do you think someone might have thought and/or said something along the lines of: “Gee, I wonder if this is a good idea, under the circumstances?” or “Has anyone alerted the good citizens of Manhattan or Jersey City of this flight?” I’m sure you get the drift here.
- A quick glance at that list of very professional organizations above causes one to realize how critical each is to the protection of this country. To think that not one single person considered the ramifications of such a project makes one question what other areas of leadership should we be concerned about. Again, this is far from a political situation. This is, without a doubt, a leadership and common-sense consideration. Could this type of tragic circumstance occur within your organization? Think before you speak. Shudder if you must.