I live in lower Manhattan. I've lived here for 10 years (except for a nearly two year hiatus when we moved to Italy and back again). I remember looking out of my bedroom window one sunny morning and watching the skyline change before my eyes. I knew things would never be the same.
Well, they're not.
So this morning when I heard a plane screaming overhead, i froze in my seat and tried not to vomit. When i heard the second and third planes going by, my heart started pounding and all i could think about was trying to tell my legs to move so i could run up the street to my daughter's preschool.
I waited for the boom, but it didn't come.
I started to settle, then i heard it again. One. Two. Three. I ran to the window but was too late. I turned on the news, nothing. The third time I heard it, I knew there was something going on. I ran to the roof and saw this:
These were definitely not comemrcial flights. I didn't know what to think. the rooves were filled with other people, just standing and staring. Most of them, like me, had cameras.
These planes were flying very very close overhead. I stood and watched them fly over my head (i live close to the east river) up, around the Empire State Building, and back again.
They went overhead about 10 times. Just circling. 6 of these little things and one big huge plane, that was flying incredibly low.
if you click on the photos you can see them full size, but here's an idea of how close they were - this is not an enlargement. I took these photos with a 55mm lens, so not a terribly massive zoom. I could read the writing on the bottom of the wings. I could read the numbers on the tails.
This big thing - what is that? - was so close that i could feel the wind shift. I could read "MARINES" on the wing, I could see the star and stripes on the other wing.
Here's a detail from the full-sized image. again, this isn't an enlargement. this is through a 55mm lens. I could see the propeller, clear as in this photo, but, you know, moving.
When I composed myself a bit I called 311, which is this city "info line" and guess what? It's Fleet Week. Some tradition where the navy takes over Manhattan. Apparently this was some sort of show that was supposed to make us all feel protected and happy.
I talked with the burly construction workers putting up the building next door. They were scared to death. I talked to the guy from the bodega on the corner. He was pretty freaked. I went to the grocery store, 3 hours after this display. It's all people could talk about.
I remember a time, nearly 5 years ago, when all New Yorkers became equal, if only for a short time. We talked to each other, asking "are you ok? is your family safe?" we looked each other in the eye, and shared our fears. We all knew we were all the same. We saw each other's humanity, and were not ashamed of our tears.
So if that's what this mornings display was about - reminding us that we are each other's family - then, job well done, US Navy. but here's a hint, you know, for next time. New Yorkers aren't fond of low flying planes.