WASHINGTON — Low-flying fighter jets caught DC residents off-guard on Friday and interrupted public remarks by Vice President Kamala Harris and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Two F-22 Raptors flew over downtown DC shortly after 11 a.m. to celebrate the opening of the National World War I Memorial — startling many people who weren’t aware of the plans.
A loud roar could be heard across the nation’s capital, drowning out both Harris, who stopped mid-sentence while welcoming Japan’s visiting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and Psaki, who was giving her daily press briefing.
Harris paused during her event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, looked up and nodded in apparent surprise at the boom.
Psaki, speaking in the White House briefing room, said “Wow! There is a plane right overhead, just for anyone — anyone tuning in online.”
F-22 Raptors were introduced in the late 1990s — well after World War I, which ended in 1918 and saw early military use of rudimentary propeller planes.
Many Washingtonians were startled to hear the planes and feared for the worst after an unsettling year of domestic unrest.
“Why the hell weren’t residents notified in advance! I seriously had flashbacks to 9/11 and being under attack!” tweeted DC marketing and PR exec Lisa Amore.
Politico transportation reporter Sam Mintz tweeted, “Still think it’s bizarre to send low-flying military planes over residential neighborhoods with little warning for…celebrations? In cities like NYC and DC where people have every reason to believe they could be the target of attacks via plane.”
Another DC area resident wrote, “DC is a restricted airspace zone, so every time I hear a plane or jet I assume it’s an attack or a response to a threat. UGH now I’m all anxious.”
Former President Donald Trump’s administration held multiple flyovers — typically well-advertised to the public and carried live on TV, including on the Fourth of July.
In 2019, Trump and Poland’s visiting president Andrzej Duda stood on the White House South Lawn for a flyover of two F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. White House reporters and DC residents stood outside to watch.