For some reason, some folks find it entertaining to point lasers at aircraft. The menace is growing despite the efforts to inform the public that it’s a Really Bad Idea. Earlier this month, some idiot targeted Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma:
During a recent night flying week, the difficult and dangerous business of learning to fly at night was made even more difficult and dangerous when three Vance aircraft were the targets of a concentrated beam of green laser light, either from a laser pointer or a laser rifle scope. All three aircraft, a T-6A Texan II and two T-38s, landed safely, but all six pilots had to report to the Vance Clinic for precautionary eye exams. All were cleared by flight surgeons. “They were on final turns to come into the base,” said Bob Farrell, Vance’s chief of community relations. “That’s a very critical phase of flight.”……“The critical phase of flight, absolutely, is the last 1,000 feet coming in and landing. That’s when the pilots need their eyes the most.”
During 2009 there were 1,527 laser illumination incidents reported to Federal Aviation Administration, up from 311 in 2005. Through 4/15/10 there’s aleady 550 reported incidents.
This guy is going to do four years in prison for it. Some say that that’s too severe and it’s an over reaction. I don’t. The lives of the pilot (s) and passengers in commercial aircraft are placed in jeopardy if pilots are blinded on short final. It can also cost a pilot his livelihood. An American airline pilot who’s lost his medical after his eye was struck with a laser. You cannot blink fast enough. In my view, this is no different than someone firing a rifle at a plane. A severe penalty sends a message.
“Men are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen.” (George Savile)