Laser Pranks: Rising Trend of Lasers Beams Striking Aircraft

A so-called prank could have devastating consequences. The prank? People pointing their handheld lasers at airplanes and helicopters.

Problem is, pilots could be temporarily blinded by the lasers. Across the country last week, lasers hit more than 20 different aircraft. 

Mary Moloney has the latest on this disturbing trend.


  --REPORTER PKG-AS FOLLOWS--
(NATS): "I see the people involved right now. They're walking in and out of the building."
CAUGHT ON CAMERA.
A LASER BEAM SHINES INTO THE COCKPIT OF A HELICOPTER -- AS A NEW YORK NEWS CREW FILMS.
(NATS): "Hitting us right now. Don't look George."
(NATS): "Oh yeah, you think this is a joke huh?"
THE CREW LED POLICE TO THE SUSPECTS.
ONE NOW CHARGED WITH FELONY RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT.
(NATS): "Yup, making arrests."
(NATS): "That's perfect"
IT'S NOT THE ONLY CHOPPER HIT BY A LASER.
THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE INSIDE A SECOND NEWS HELICOPTER -- STRUCK 20 MINUTES LATER IN NEW JERSEY.
ACCORDING TO THE F-A-A -- ACROSS THE COUNTRY WEDNESDAY -- LASERS HIT MORE THAN 20 AIRCRAFT IN 10 STATES AND IN PUERTO RICO.
IN RECENT YEARS -- THE FAA STATISTICS SHOW THESE DANGEROUS INCIDENTS HAVE INCREASED STEADILY.
THROUGH mid-OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR -- THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 5 THOUSAND (5352) REPORTS OF LASER STRIKES ON AIRCRAFT.
UP FROM NEARLY 4 THOUSAND (3894) IN ALL OF 2014.
THAT COMPARED TO LESS THAN 400 (384) BACK IN 2006.
PILOTS WANT TOUGHER PENALTIES TO HELP STOP THE LASER STRIKES.
(Les Abend): "I think this might deter some people from playing games with these potentially dangerous toys."
I'M MARY MOLONEY REPORTING.


A handheld laser can travel more than a mile from the ground and illuminate the cockpit of a plane, kind of like a flash going off in a pitch black car. We should note that no laser-related injuries were reported by pilots after the latest string of pranks.

Instructional Links

Lesson Plan with Animations: What is a Laser?

http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/npe11.sci.phys.energy.whatislaser/what-is-a-laser/

Website: Laser Pointer Safety

http://www.laserpointersafety.com/index.html

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