WASHINGTON A top White House aide resigned Friday for his role in Air Force One's $328,835 photo-op flyover above New York City that sparked panic and flashbacks to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Louis Caldera said the controversy had made it impossible for him to effectively lead the White House Military Office. "Moreover, it has become a distraction in the important work you are doing as president," Caldera said in his letter to President Barack Obama.
The sight of the huge passenger jet and an F-16 fighter plane flying past the Statue of Liberty and the lower Manhattan financial district sent panicked office workers streaming into the streets on April 27. Obama said it would not happen again.
Caldera's office approved the photo-op, which cost $35,000 in fuel alone for the plane and two jet fighter escorts. The Air Force estimated the photo shoot cost taxpayers $328,835.
When Obama appointed Caldera to the job during the presidential transition, the then president-elect hailed Caldera as having a resume that was second-to-none. Obama said then: "I know he'll bring to the White House the same dedication and integrity that have earned him the highest praise in every post."