A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: 52-year-old Georgia man jailed for aiming laser at police helicopter

While searching for a wanted subject, a Gwinnett County police helicopter was illuminated by a red laser February 13 2020. The crew interrupted their search and directed ground officers to a Loganville, Georgia man.

52-year-old Daniel Clair Maloney was arrested on two misdemeanors: laser use against an aircraft and obstruction. According to police, when asked by officers why he aimed the laser, Maloney said he was "just curious as to why a helicopter was in the air."


Daniel Clair Maloney


Maloney was released on a $3,700 bond.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

UK: Air ambulance helicopter aborts landing after laser pen exposure

A Wiltshire Air Ambulance helicopter on a February 20 2020 training flight aborted a landing after a laser attack. The pilot and two paramedics were attempting to land at a school in Chippenham, Wiltshire (85 miles west of London) when the illumination occurred.

A spokesperson for the air ambulance charity said "This was clearly very risky for the guys up there. Fortunately, the were not on an emergency mission but clearly it is a very serious incident."

Police were searching for the perpetrator.

From the Swindon Advertiser

US: Miami man aquitted of charges for aiming a laser at a police helicopter

On December 24 2018, an airliner reported being hit by a laser beam near Miami International Airport. A Miami police helicopter, sent to investigate, was also illuminated by a laser.

The helicopter crew spotted a man on a construction site with a laser, who left the construction parking field in a Ford Escape SUV. The driver was found to be Rolando Yague, 60.

He was charged with misuse of a laser pointer, a third-degree felony. Due to previous convictions, he could have received up to 10 years in prison.

At trial in mid-February 2020, Yague was acquitted of the charge. His lawyer told the Miami Herald that the area had many construction workers all wearing orange vests and that "There was absolutely no direct evidence. No video. No physical evidence. No laser pointer was ever found. Not a single person could identify Rolando Yague as having a laser in his possession at that field.”

Yague's dealings with the justice system are not over. Because of a 1988 prior conviction for armed robbery and attempted murder, Yague was on probation at the time of the laser incident. He was jailed for violating his probation by being arrested. He must convince a judge that, because he was acquitted of the charge, he did not violate his probation conditions.

From the Miami Herald

New Zealand: Lasers aimed at police helicopter the first day it is used

On February 17 2020, New Zealand Police began a five-week trial of using a helicopter in Christchurch. It was used three times the first day — and there were two incidents where lasers were aimed at the new helicopter.

A 44-year-old man was arrested and was charged with possession of a restricted weapon. (New Zealand has strict laws about laser registration and use.) His court date was set for February 25.

A police spokesperson said "The lasering of an aircraft is totally unacceptable behaviour and could cause serious harm to the crew of Eagle who are there for the protection and safety of all of Christchurch."

Hamish Walker, Member of Parliament from Clutha-Southland, issued a press release saying the incident is evidence that the current law is too weak:

“People continue to point lasers at helicopters and planes which demonstrates the current penalties in place are doing little to deter offenders.

“My High-Power Laser Pointer Offences and Penalties Bill will not only deter offenders but also raise awareness about an issue which poses a great risk to pilots and passengers.

“The Bill proposes to double the maximum fine to $4000 and double the term of imprisonment from three to six months. It will also make it an offence to have a high-power laser in possession in both public and private places.

“Pilots continue to ask for harsher penalties as incidents keep occurring but this is being completely ignored by this Government.

“Laser incidents have increased 130 per cent since 2014, with 717 recorded incidents from 2014-2018 showing how crucial my Members Bill will be if we want to deter offenders.

“It’s time the Government stopped putting politics before safety and supported my Bill.”


From Stuff.co.nz (first day usage and arrest of laser suspect), and National (Hamish Walker press release)

UK: Pilot said to have laser burn in eye

On February 4 2020, a 21-year-old student pilot suffered a suspected laser burn to his retina while flying a light aircraft on a training flight near Chipping Norton, about 75 miles northwest of London. The pilot was taken to a hospital for treatment.

According to the Oxford Mail, "the extent of his injury is unknown at this time [Feb. 19], although it is expected he will make a full recovery and return to training."

The next night, another training aircraft was hit by a laser in the same general area. No injury was reported.

An investigating Thames Valley Police officer said "The trainee pilot of the first aircraft suffered injuries to the back of his eye as a result of this attack and the injuries may result in him being unable to fulfill a career in aviation. The recklessness of such acts not only endangers the aircraft and all passengers on board, but also those on the ground, as attacks such as this seriously jeopardize safety."

Police were asking anyone with information to contact them.

From the Oxford Mail

US: Pilot has eye problems after laser aimed at California police aircraft

After several reports of lasers being aimed at military and civilian aircraft north of San Francisco, a suspect who repeatedly aimed at a California Highway Patrol (CHP) aircraft was arrested February 17 2020. It is being investigated as to whether the suspect was also responsible for the earlier laser incidents reported to Travis Air Force Base.

CHP pilot Jan Sears was directly illuminated by the blue laser beam. He later described the effect: "So it's pitch black and we're flying and all of a sudden it's like the sun just came out. It took me a minute to get my bearings…." Sears was able to control the aircraft by activating the autopilot. The CHP flight officer directed deputies on the ground to the suspect's location.

He was identified as Christopher Larsen, 33. He was charged with two state felonies for discharging a laser and aiming a laser at an aircraft, and may also be charged with a federal felony.


Christopher Larsen


Sears said Larsen was "using a laser that's illegal, much more expensive and highly powerful." He noted that "In a week we are lased once maybe twice; sometimes we catch them, sometimes we don't."


A laser similar in design to the one Larson was found with


Sears told NBC Bay Area that he was "still having residual effects with my left eye. I feel that something has happened." He said he had experience with green lasers before, but "this was a blue laser. It was the worst type to get involved with." Protective eyewear was on board, but it was intended to reduce green light, not blue.

From CBS San Francisco Bay Area, GoodDay Sacramento, KSRO and NBC Bay Area

Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: Most lasing incidents involve green light, so glasses that reduce the intensity of green light can be useful. Glasses are available which reduce green and blue — and even green, blue and red. However, the more wavelengths of light that the glasses attenuate, the more overall light is also dimmed. Plus this can make it more difficult to differentiate colors on the aircraft instrument panel. More information is on the page about laser glare protection eyewear.

US: Laser strikes near Savannah airport lead FBI, county to offer $2500 reward

On January 29 2020, the FBI and the Effingham County (Georgia) Sheriff's Office are offering a $2,500 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect(s).

This came as a result of laser strikes on airplanes approaching Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. Since November 2019 there were three illuminations from an area of Effingham County, 10-15 miles northwest of Savannah.

The county sheriff said that additional laser strikes had occurred prior to November, and the general area of the strikes was recently identified.

Anyone with information can call the Effingham County Sheriff's Office at 912-754-3449.

From WJCL.com

UK: London man, 55, aims laser at helicopter over noise spoiling his audiobook

A 55-year-old northwest London man aimed a blue laser beam at a police helicopter after the noise irritated him while listening to an audiobook.

On July 18 2019, the helicopter was searching near Stephen Reid's home when the man pointed the laser at it. His location was identified, and Reid threw the laser into his back yard when illuminated by the helicopter spotlight.

Officers on the ground had to threaten to force their way into Reid's home before he opened the door. A blue and a green laser pen were found by a canine unit. Reid admitted the lasers were his.

In court in January 2020, Reid's attorney said Reid was "plagued by police helicopters searching for individuals…. Something got into his head and he utilized this laser pen to cause what could have been a catastrophe."

On January 29 2020, the judge gave Reid a four-month sentence suspended for 18 months, plus he had to complete a 60-day rehabilitation program.

The judge said "Any distraction and that helicopter is crashing into an urban area with devastating consequences. You were irritated, frustrated and annoyed at what they were doing interrupting your audiobook and it’s clear you were not thinking about the consequences of your behaviour. By the finest margin I can imagine I can suspend this sentence. You’ve caught me on a good day."

From Metro.co.uk

US: Florida man shot with taser after aiming laser at aircraft and police helicopter

In a widely publicized incident, a man who aimed a laser at aircraft near a Florida airport was tased by officers sent to contact him. One pilot said the laser light went directly into his eyes, causing temporary blindness and lingering blurred vision. The pilot went to a local medical center and was discharged.

On January 22 2020, a man in an industrial area aimed a green laser pointer at aircraft near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, including a United Airbus A320 and Cessna Skyhawk planes that were practicing takeoffs and landings. Most reports said four aircraft were targeted, although airport police quoted in one story said only two airplanes were struck. The same story indicated it was the Cessna student pilot who reported eyesight problems.

A Manatee County Sheriff's Office helicopter was sent to investigate. The man aimed his laser at the helicopter as well as throwing objects towards it. The crew was able to pinpoint his location, about a quarter mile from the runway approach.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they found 41-year-old Charlie James Chapman Jr. He was on a forklift, and made a "striking motion" with a hammer towards the officers. They used a Taser two times to subdue Chapman. A laser pointer was found in his pants pocket. He was taken to a hospital, and later to jail.


Charlie James Chapman Jr.


Chapman was charged with aggravated assault on an officer, pointing a laser at a pilot with injury, pointing a laser at a pilot without injury and resisting without violence.

The sheriff's office released video from the helicopter:



Some stills from the video:


The laser is aimed towards the helicopter.


An almost direct hit on the camera lens.


The man throws a small object (arrow) towards the helicopter — not reaching it, of course. The forklift can be seen on the right.


In an infrared view, officers (white shapes) move in to confront the perpetrator.


Chapman was apprehended at 8224 25th Court East in Sarasota, which is the worksite of Vulcan Materials Co., a ready-mix concrete supplier according to Google Maps.

From the Manatee County Sheriff's Office press release, the Orlando Sentinel via MSN, WRCBTV.com, ABC13.com, the Washington Post, WCTV, USA Today, and many other news sources and services. Thanks to Greg Makhov, Jack Dunn and Donna Colona for also bringing this to our attention.

US: Laser case dropped against perpetrator with "intellectual disability"

Charges were dropped January 22 2020 against a West Columbus (Ohio) man who aimed a green laser at local and state police helicopters on four days in July 2019.

When his home was pinpointed, officers went to the location. James M. Rhodes, 37, admitted pointing the laser at the aircraft.

He was indicted on felony charges of interfering with the operation of an aircraft with a laser.

After evaluation, a psychologist said Rhodes was unable to assist his attorney due to a "mild intellectual disability." Treatment would not help his condition, which was not severe enough to warrant institutionalization.

Based on the evaluation, the charges were dismissed.

From the Columbus Dispatch

US: Colorado first responders encounter lasers nearly every night

The program director for Flight for Life emergency medical helicopters in Colorado says "We are being tagged by lasers on virtually every leg of a flight after dark." Kathleen Mayer made the comments in a January 20 2020 interview with CBS4 in Denver.

She said laser illuminations can cause pilots to land prematurely, and if they have temporary vision problems, they cannot fly.

Mayer also said "We see an uptick right after the holidays. I think people get the lasers for Christmas gifts and want to try them out, but they are absolutely picking the wrong target when they hit an aircraft."

According to Mayer, Flight for Life made six reports to the FBI in December, regarding laser interference.

From CBS4 Denver