A presidential jet and an Air Force fighter jet have flown low over the Statue of Liberty for a photo shoot that reminded some New Yorkers of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
They flew near the World Trade Center site.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he was "furious" and criticized the federal government and his own administration for failing to warn the public.
New Yorkers are sensitive to any incident evocative of the 2001 attacks, which involved hijacked airliners that destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
Many people fled buildings, and stock prices fell.
The US Air Force said the "aerial photo mission" involved Air Force One and an F-16 fighter jet escort and . President Barack Obama was not Aboard the Boeing 747.
Police said federal authorities told them not to disclose the information ahead of time.
The White House has apologised for any distress the flight caused.