911 calls just released by a New Jersey emergency office communicate chilling on-the-ground scenes of the panic and terror that besieged many eyewitnesses of yesterday's botched Air Force One promotional photo op over Lower Manhattan.
"Oh my god," one caller says again and again, later telling the operator, "They are following an aircraft, a big aircraft coming like the 9-11."
Also this afternoon, the Air Force released an estimate of the cost of the NYC flyover - $328,835. The estimate includes fuel, personnel costs and maintenance and was calculated over the life of the aircraft and did not necessarily occur yesterday.
One woman in Jersey City, NJ says in a call, "we don't know what's going on because there's like planes going inside the building so everybody's outside going crazy."
The 911 operator responds, asking, "There's what?"
The caller repeats, "It looks like planes are trying to go in the building. And everybody's outside going crazy." She said no one knew what was going on and ran out of their office building and "went their own separate ways." Later in the call, the plane's engine can be heard overhead.
Another caller from Staten Island, NY says the planes were flying so low that he expected them to land in the water.
The calls were released this afternoon by the 911 office in Hudson County, NJ, just across the river from Manhattan.
The Department of Defense photo shoot involved a Boeing 747 used as Air Force One and one fighter jet flying at low altitude in the area around Ground Zero.
Residents and workers in Lower Manhattan and New Jersey, unaware of the photo op, ran into the streets, traumatized by memories of 9-11 and afraid of another attack. Emergency offices in both cities were inundated with hundreds of frightened calls. "It scared a couple of million people," one airport official said.
Late Tuesday, the Air Force said the planes flew as part of a training mission: "The hours would have been flown regardless and the expenses would have been accrued on a different mission," a statement said.
President Obama and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had not been told about the photo op, were both infuriated by the incident.
Bloomberg called it "ill-conceived" and a "waste of taxpayers' money." A White House official told ABC News that President Obama was "furious" when he found out, and the Director of the White House Military Office, Louis Caldera, who approved the photo op, was called into a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina.
"It didn't sound like a fun meeting," the White House official said.
Later, Caldera apologized in a statement, saying, "Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."