A 14- year old California teen was arrested today for pointing a laser pen at two aircraft as they approached Los Angeles International Airport.
The teen is accused of pointing a green laser pen at a police helicopter and an airplane the ground in South Los Angeles.
LaserPointerSafety.com warns “You should NEVER aim a laser pointer at an airplane or helicopter. It is unsafe, you may be arrested, and you may help get laser pointers banned.” Distracting or flashblinding pilots is serious business that end up in jail time, up to 20 years for an Orlando, Florida man last month.
There were 100 incidents of laser pointing at LAX reported in 2010, more than any other airport in the country.
Flickr image by M. Pastor (who apparently is trying to blind the photographer in this photo)AOLTravel reports “Lasers can put planes and passengers at risk by distracting and even temporarily blinding pilots, the FAA said. Most of the incidents occurred during takeoffs and landing”
The “sport” of pointing a laser pointer at a plane is not new – many people have been arrested for the stupid stunt.
Last week was a first though – someone caught pointing their laser at two planes was arrested, and sentenced to two and a half years in jail.
His first target was a United Airlines plane carrying 180 passengers. When the beam hit the cockpit window, the pilot caught it right in the eye, causing “flash blindness”. The second target was an Alaska Airlines jet, this time the pilot was able to duck below a glare shield, but did have to abort a critical turn.
There appears to be no shortage of stupidity in the world, and shining a laser pointer at a jet just reinforces that. I’m not even sure what is going through the mind of someone who thinks this is a fun game.
These planes are carrying a lot of people, and in many cases they are on their final approach, one of the most critical parts of the entire flight. To me, two and a half year is on the short side – but hopefully it’ll still send a message to anyone else who was thinking of messing around with their laser pointer.
You’d think that by now, enough people have seen the news warning us that shining a laser pointer at a commercial plane is a very bad idea?
Apparently, that news did not reach 19 year old Vincent Bodin in Phoenix, because this young man was just arrested for doing just that.
He’d been up to no good for several days, and it took a police helicopter to finally catch him.
The really stupid part? Mr. Bodin is a French citizen here on a student visa, which means he runs the very real risk of being deported back home. Crime does not pay, and being a total idiot pays even less.
The current generation laser pointers are extremely bright, you can purchase pen sized pointers with enough power to light a match, so imagine the intensity of that beam when it hits the cockpit window – most certainly not something a pilot will want to see when he’s on his final approach or take off.