A military aircraft that was seen circling midtown Manhattan in New York City on Tuesday afternoon was taking part in a routine exercise, an official for the National Guard says.
“That was a standard military training flight from the New York Air National Guard from the 106th Rescue Wing, and they are based at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton in Long Island,” Col. Rich Goldenberg, public information officer for the New York National Guard, told Yahoo News.
A military exercise involving training flights flying this low over Manhattan is more of a “rare occurrence,” Goldenberg said, “but it does occur from time to time.”
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said the air space had been cleared for use by the National Guard.
“U.S. military aircraft are currently conducting authorized flights over New York City in coordination with FAA air traffic control,” the FAA said.
Since 9/11, the city of New York generally alerts residents of test flights in advance to avoid panics.
A spokesman for the NYPD, though, told Yahoo News that he did not know whether the department had been informed of Tuesday’s planned training exercise ahead of time, but “we know about it now.”
Trump Tower, where President-elect Donald Trump lives and has been holding transition meetings since his election, is located in midtown.
“To the best of my knowledge, we would clear it with the FAA, and the FAA would notify the NYPD,” Goldenberg said.
Goldenberg said the military has coordinated with New York law enforcement in the past for special flying missions, like when the Air Force has done flyovers to take photos of the Statue of Liberty. But that a “simple crew training flight” does not trigger that level of coordination.
The plane, accompanied by several helicopters, made loops in midtown around 4 p.m. local time, sparking a mini-frenzy, as witnesses posted images of the unusual sight to social media.
The four-engine C-130 Hercules is a versatile, workhorse used by all branches of the military, primarily for cargo transport and aerial refueling. Produced by Lockheed, the Hercules has been in production and service for over 60 years.
Asked whether the Secret Service was aware of the flight, spokeswoman Cathy Milhoan told Yahoo News: “The flight was coordinated with the FAA, and all parties were in constant communication with air traffic control.”
Asked for details of any Secret Service involvement, Milhoan replied: “As a matter of policy, we’re not going to comment on our protective operations.”
An official for the Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return a request for comment.
— Yahoo News’ Liz Goodwin, Olivier Knox and Everett Starling contributed to this report.