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US: Long Island man arrested after aiming laser at plane, then police helicopter
On December 5 2011, a small single-engine plane was preparing to land at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Long Island, NY. The pilot reported seeing a light aimed towards him (some sources say it was red, others say it was green). FAA officials informed Suffolk County police. The Suffolk Police helicopter sent to investigate was also targeted by the laser. They easily traced the laser back to its source, Smith’s home in St. James, NY. Ground units then moved in to arrest the 21-year-old. It took about an hour from the time of the FAA call to Smith’s arrest.
David Smith, arrested for lasing aircraft
On December 9, Smith was charged with “obstructing governmental administration in the second degree”. Additional charges may be filed by the Port Authority Terrorism Task Force and perhaps the FAA and other governmental agencies.
The map below shows Smith’s house (red symbol in St. James) and the approximate position of the airplane (green symbol with triangle) if it was 5 miles northwest of MacArthur Airport. The plane would be about 2 miles from Smith’s house, and 15 miles from Republic Airport.
The green position is consistent with the majority of laser illuminations, where the beam source is within a few miles (ground distance) from an aircraft. At that distance, it would not take much laser power to be a hazard. Specifically, a green 5 milliwatt “legal” laser pointer poses a distraction hazard up to about 2.2 miles away.
From the New York Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, the Wall Street Journal, CBS New York and NBC NewYork