A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Australia: Teen charged for pointing laser at aircraft

An unnamed 19-year-old was arrested February 24 2019 for aiming a laser at a Cessna aircraft, then at a New South Wales Police helicopter sent to investigate. The flights occurred over the Sydney suburb of Eastlakes.

He was charged with an act that threatened the safety of an aircraft or persons on board, and with possession or use of a prohibited weapon without a permit.

From Mirage News and The Australian

US: San Antonio man arrested for aiming laser at helicopter; pilot sees spots

A San Antonio Police Department pilot reported seeing spots and having blurred vision after a green laser beam was aimed at his helicopter on February 18 2019. An eye exam showed no permanent damage and the pilot was cleared to fly again.

Justin Shorey, 37, was arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor.


Justin Shorey


According to Fox News, in San Antonio there were 48 reports of lasers pointed at aircraft in 2016, 62 reports in 2017, and 74 reports from January through November 2018.

From Fox San Antonio. Thanks to Peter Smith and Leon McLin for bringing this to our attention.

UK: Six months in prison for aiming laser pen three times at police helicopter

Voyslav Dimitrov, 29, was sentenced to six months in prison on February 18 2019, for aiming a green laser pen at a police helicopter.

On September 15 2018 officers were flying above Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, searching for men carrying knives, when their helicopter was illuminated with "dazzling" green light three times; each time lasting 3-5 seconds. The pilot took immediate action to avoid the light.

Ground officers arrested Dimitrov under the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act. He could have been jailed for up to five years and have been given an unlimited fine.

At trial on January 29 2019, Dimitrov pleaded guilty. His lawyer said Dimitrov thought he was aiming the laser at a drone which was an "extremely ridiculous" decision but that he was of good character.

During sentencing on February 18 2019, the judge said the outcome could have been "fatal and catastrophic" and gave Dimitrov a six-month jail sentence as a deterrent.

From BBC England News

US: Florida man ignores laser label, aims it at aircraft anyway

A 48-year-old man was charged with a third-degree felony under Florida law after aiming a red laser beam at a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office helicopter — despite the laser having a warning label stating "Never aim at aircraft."

On February 17 2019, the helicopter was monitoring a fire at about 2:30 am when a red beam was shined at the aircraft three times. An infrared camera captured a suspect aiming towards the helicopter from the door of a screened-in porch.



Deputies on the ground went to a house in unincorporated Clearwater and arrested Brian Harting, who admitted aiming a laser at the aircraft.


Brian Harting


Harting also said he was unaware that doing so was illegal. The laser had a label stating "Never aim at aircraft."

From the Miami Herald and WFLA

Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: As far as we are aware, this is the first case where a person was apprehended with a laser that had a label warning against aiming at aircraft. Such a warning is not required in the U.S., as the Food and Drug Administration only requires labels that warn against injury to eyes or skin, or a potential burn hazard. FDA does recommend that laser pointer manufacturers add a a warning against aiming at aircraft, but this is not legally required.

Such a label has two advantages: 1) It can warn persons who read the label, and 2) it is easier to prosecute a person in court if they were specifically warned on the laser not to aim at aircraft, but they did so anyway. More discussion is on the page "What should be done about laser pointers?" in the two sections with labeling recommendations.

US: Texas police pilot has pain in eyes for two days after laser is aimed at his helicopter

On November 1 2018, a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter pilot searching for a murder suspect was illuminated in the right eye by a green laser. This caused temporary blindness and a throbbing pain, which in turn caused the search to be aborted. Instead, the pilot and the tactical officer searched for and found the person aiming the laser. The pain continued for approximately two days.

Ground officers arrested 42-year-old Sherryol Elton Clack, Jr. with a green laser pointer.

Two weeks later, FBI agents interviewed Clack. He said his friend had purchased the laser pointer and claimed the light could reach the moon. Clack then decided to aim it at a helicopter. He said this was done out of "stupidity" and he did not intend to harm anyone.


Sherryol Elton Clack, Jr.


On February 15 2019 Clack took a plea deal for the offense of Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft. Details of the deal were not available. If the judge approves the plea deal, Clack will be sentenced later to a term of up to five years in prison.

From EverythingLubbock.com

Australia: Charges for Winchelsea man who aimed laser at police helicopter

A Winchelsea (Victoria) man was arrested in the early morning hours of January 31 2019 for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter several times as it flew over Geelong.

The 32-year-old will be charged with possessing and using a prohibited weapon, reckless conduct endangering life, and interfering with crew of an aircraft.

From Bay 93.9 News

Australia: Doctor in air ambulance dazzled by laser; pilot not affected

A doctor who was flying on an air ambulance plane was briefly dazzled by laser light about 10 minutes after takeoff. The January 30 2019 incident occurred to Dr. Robert Smithers, who was flying from Launceton to Devonport, in Tasmania.

According to the doctor, the beam illuminated the side of the twin-propeller aircraft and did not shine onto the pilot. The aircraft continued without further incident on its medical transfer flight.

From The Examiner

UK: Police looking for perpetrator(s) of six aircraft lasing incidents

Thames Valley Police are asking for the public's help in finding a person or persons who aimed a high-powered green laser at civilian and military police aircraft flying over West Berkshire.

In a January 29 2019 appeal, police said they are asking for witnesses of past laser events, as well as to notify police if they become aware of a current laser aimed at aircraft so officers can respond.

The six past incidents of concern are:

  • At 7.30pm on 24 October 2018 when two military Apaches flying together near Enborne were targeted.
  • At 6.45pm on 30 November 2018 a pilot reported a green laser being shone approximately five miles west of Newbury.
  • At 5.45pm on 12 December 2018 a laser was shone at a military Apache helicopter traveling over Marsh Benham
  • At 5.35pm on 12 December 2018 a laser strike took place against a plane in the Welford area
  • At 5.45pm on 8 January 2019 a report was received that a laser was shone at aircraft flying over Newbury
  • At 5.50pm on 9 January 2019 at a civilian helicopter in the vicinity of Newbury Racecourse

A police spokesperson said "We are keeping an open mind as to whether any of the incidents are linked."

From the Thames Valley Police

US: Jury deadlocked on case of laser aimed at police helicopter

A San Diego Superior Court jury could not agree to convict Robert Louis Silva, Jr. on a felony charge of discharging a laser at an occupied aircraft.

On March 20 2018 a police helicopter was illuminated by a purple laser beam for about one minute. The pilot had eye irritation and put on night vision goggles. Silva, 33, was located on Fiesta Island and was arrested.

At trial, Silva told the jury he thought he was aiming at a drone piloted by a friend, and stopped when he realized he was instead aiming at a helicopter.

Prosecutors pointed out the difference between the helicopter and a drone, saying "He knew what he was doing. It was intentional. He didn't think he'd get found."

Silva's attorney noted that the helicopter was four miles away and thus looked smaller. She said "malicious intent" was required to convict, and that Silva did not have any intent to harm. She said "he profusely and repeatedly apologized" to police during his arrest, and that police did not go to look for the drone operator.

The jury deadlocked after four hours of deliberation on January 16 2019. Nine jurors voted to acquit and the remaining three jurors voted to convict.

The judge declared a mistrial and ordered Silva to return in late January to schedule dates for a possible re-trial. Silva remains free on $25,000 bond.

From sdnews.com