‘Are you out of your mind?’: US Navy cancels New York 9/11 flyover tribute amid public outrage

Planned tribute branded as ‘tone deaf’, ‘insensitive’, and ‘verging on completely tasteless’

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Friday 11 September 2020 18:50
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Joe Biden and Mike Pence attend 9/11 anniversary at Ground Zero

The US Navy has cancelled a planned flyover of New York City intended to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks amid widespread criticism.

Branded as “tone deaf”, “insensitive”, and “verging on completely tasteless” by incredulous social media users, the plan also drew the ire of elected officials.

Staten Island representative Max Rose tweeted: “Are you out of your mind? Cancel this immediately.”

The mayor’s office was reportedly unaware of the planned tribute.

A spokesperson said: “The mayor wasn’t aware of the flyover, and frankly, it’s inappropriate. He looks forward to thanking our heroes and honoring those we’ve lost at the ceremony this morning."

The flyover was announced on Twitter by the city’s emergency notification system late on Thursday. 

A US Navy F-18 Super Hornet jet was scheduled to fly south down the Hudson River towards the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at an altitude of 2,500ft at 3.30pm.

New York City residents were quick to respond calling the idea “insane and cruel” to those who still suffer post traumatic stress from the attacks.

Pentagon officials confirmed the flyover was cancelled. It is unclear who planned the spectacle.

Three other flyovers of the city were criticised earlier in the year for the same reason, but planning one on the anniversary of 9/11 crossed a line for many.

On July 4 a military flyover took place as part of a 2020 Salute to America. In May, JetBlue’s display of passenger planes painted red, white and blue also sparked outrage despite being a tribute to healthcare workers.

In April the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds coordinated a flyover of the city to honour first responders. That too was criticised for its cost at a time when New York was still struggling through the worst of the coronavirus outbreak.

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