SEB Safety Tip: Don’t shine your laser pointer into the cockpits of passing aircraft…

Pic of helicopter cockpit hit by laser pointer.

This is what it looks like from inside the aircraft. Yes, this is an actual incident.

… you stupid fucking asshats.

Apparently this small bit of wisdom has escaped a great many Americans as last year Los Angeles airport recorded the highest number of laser-beam events:

“This is a serious safety issue,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

“Lasers can distract and harm pilots who are working to get passengers safely to their destinations.”

Nationally, the number of reported laser events almost doubled in 2010 from the previous year to more than 2,800 — the highest since the federal government began tracking them in 2005.

What the fuck people? The numbers shouldn’t be going up. No one has any good reason to be zapping aircraft with their laser pointers. Are you trying to cause a major accident? Do you long to be the cause of a major loss of life?

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport came in second behind LAX with 98 incidents. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport tied for third place with 80 laser incidents each.

[…] “The FAA is actively warning people not to point high-powered lasers at aircraft because they can damage a pilot’s eyes or cause temporary blindness,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “We continue to ask pilots to immediately report laser events to air traffic controllers so we can contact local law enforcement officials.”

Federal, state and local governments have laws making it illegal to shine lasers at aircraft. Violators can face prison time and thousands of dollars in fines per charge.

In a recent local incident, two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters were forced to make precautionary landings at LAX in August after being flashed with laser beams. One chopper was flying above San Pedro’s Cabrillo Beach at night. The other was flashed two days earlier over Torrance. Coast Guard officials said both crews were grounded until doctors cleared them to fly again.

They don’t put those little warning labels on there simply because it keeps the warning label industry going. Cut that shit out. It’s obvious you don’t give a shit about the people whose lives you’re putting at risk with this stunt so I’ll appeal to your selfish natures and suggest you stop if for no other reason than the massive fines and jail time you’ll be looking at if your dumbass gets caught doing something this stupid. Do I even have to mention that the same goes for automobiles, motorcycles, bikes or even just people walking down the street?

Seriously, grow the fuck up.

9 thoughts on “SEB Safety Tip: Don’t shine your laser pointer into the cockpits of passing aircraft…

  1. I was seriously disgusted & extremely pissed that I saw this happen from a boy scout camp out at a state park I was staying at late last year. If I had been 100% sure of the illegality of this at the time I was pretty determined to walk over and ask for a camp leader, but seeing as I wasn’t 100% sure I didn’t.

    It was one of the bright green lasers and was “shot” at a plane that had already passed over head.

  2. Airplanes and stuff is stupid. At the same time, the new generation of superbright lasers have their use – they illuminate road signs VERY well because of the reflective coating the signs have.

    When some SOB is tailgating me even though I’m already going 5mph over? I light up the speed limit signs.

    The only time I use them on people is when some punk drives by with his stereo so loud you know he is wearing earplugs, just thinking it impresses folks. Its wakes my kids, riles up our animals, and riles up me. If I have time to get out fast enough, I F* with him with a laser. And I don’t try to hide, I stand out there shining it – just daring the little p*ssy to stop and come talk. They never do.

  3. Those green beams are freaking awful. They seem to be way worse than the red ones. I don’t know if they’re actually more powerful, but they seem to travel further and blind you more.

    Also: Some of these captchas are crazy hard. I had to refresh the page because I couldn’t decide if I had hawk/kangaroo or falcon/wallaby. (Or possibly eagle/kangaroo rat).

    @JSD: Shining laser pointers at cars is all fun and games. At least until someone shoots you over it and claims self defense because they thought it was a laser sight, which might well fly in court.

  4. I have my doubts that this is a real problem. Try this for an experiment. Take your handy laser pointer and aim it at a wall 20 feet away. Watch how the dot jiggles wildly from the slightest movement of your breathing, or your heart beating. Now look at a plane in the sky. Can you see the cockpit window? Even if you can pick out that tiny dot in the sky, do you think you could really tag it with your hand-held laser? The military needs some pretty high-tech hardware to be able to target their lasers. I can’t imagine that it’s even possible for someone to flash a pilot in flight without a very, very lucky shot.

  5. Artor, not sure what to tell you other than take a look at the picture I included in this entry. That’s an actual incident of it happening. It apparently happens often enough that people have been investigated and prosecuted for it. Here’s a fellow in Florida who’s facing 20 years. Here’s another idiot in Massachusetts who got 3 years in the Federal Pen for his stupidity. And here’s an item from 2009 about a man in Utah arrested for shining a laser into a helicopter.

    It appears the problem is with the high-powered green lasers which, by the time they reach the aircraft, are wide enough to illuminate the cabin.

  6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8408461.stm

    It’s a real problem that is growing around the world.

    In the UK there have been a number of incidents where the police have managed to pinpoint the location of the idiots responsible after being alerted by the pilots via the control tower.

    Would like to see new and tougher legislation in the UK as the sentences handed down so far are nowhere near enough.

  7. Les, that actually makes a little sense. I never heard of this when people only had the weak red lasers. Now with the bright green ones, I’ve seen people pick out treetops a couple miles away. I think it would still take a pretty lucky shot, but not as unlikely as I’d been thinking.

    I’d been assuming it might be another case of cops wildly inflating the risks of annoying but usually harmless activities to flex their authority.

  8. Laser pointers spread more than industrial or scientific lasers so you might be hitting that plane with a 10-foot circle of light, considerably reduced in its intensity. Unlikely to blind a pilot but it would certainly be a distraction. And how do they know they aren’t being painted by some kind of weapon? It just seems fantastically stupid to magnify the stress level of a pilot doing his job.

    Green laser pointers of equal power seem much brighter because your eyes are something like eight times more sensitive to green light than to red light. I use a green laser pointer when working because I might need to point out something up on the ceiling of an auditorium when talking to contractors. Works good.

    Except… cheap green laser pointers, however, often dump out far more than 5mw of infrared light. You can’t see it, but it will fry your retinas. No idea if that would hurt a pilot. Anyway, treat even that laser pointer with respect.

    Another except… that’s with a standard <5mw pointer like mine. It is now possible to buy some insanely powerful violet lasers which no reasonable person should be handling without special equipment and training. You see them being sold as toys – one is even built into a light sabre handle! Dumb. Hey look, I set a cereal box on fire with my toy laser. Sorry about your eye, permanently damaged by that momentary reflection off the stove.

    JSD: reflective signs (and license plates and such) work by shining the light back where it came from. Odds are, the car behind you won't even see the illumination that looks so bright to you.

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