A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Germany: Teen on Berlin roof lases three aircraft; is released to parents
The teen admitted to ground officers that he had lased the aircraft. His laser pointer was confiscated and he was handed over to his parents. He faces an investigation for “a serious intervention into the air.”
An airport spokesperson said that there were 27 laser incidents in Berlin during 2012, and 261 in all of Germany.
From BZ-Berlin (original German text and Google-translated English text) and T-Online (original German text and Google-translated English text)
New Zealand: UPDATED - 2 teens appear in court for May 2011 laser illuminations
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: The two were found guilty on November 10, 2012 according to the New Zealand Herald. It was not stated why the trial was moved from March 13 to November. Sentencing was set for February 2013.
From the New Zealand Herald and MSN NZ. This is an updated story; the original LaserPointerSafety.com news item from May 2011 is here.
UK: 16-year-old girl from Worthing arrested for aiming at police helicopter
From the Worthing Herald
US: Fort Worth teen given misdemeanor ticket for lasing air ambulance
UK: Chard man did not think laser would reach helicopter
Pilot Paul Maddox was unable to continue investigating a car crime, and broke off his mission. He and two other officers were dazzled by the laser light. Webster said he aimed the laser for less than 15 seconds; the officers in the helicopter said it was around five minutes.
On September 22, Webster pleaded guilty to recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or person in an aircraft. Sentencing is scheduled for October 14.
A news report said Webster, 45, was a drug user: “He said it had been a crazy day after he went out in the morning to score some heroin, but believes he was instead given ketamine, which didn’t treat him well.”
From This Is The West Country
UPDATE October 19 2011: Webster was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years, with a two-year supervision order. He avoided jail because he was the sole caregiver for his 16-year-old son.
The sentencing judge said “The message should go out that people tempted to target helicopters in this idiotic and dangerous way should expect a custodial sentence. It’s absurd that these completely pointless toys are used to distract and disable helicopters engaged in the task of serious public good. You’re very lucky that some serious accident didn’t happen as a result of your action. You’re not going to jail by only the thinnest skin of your teeth. I don’t see why your son – in a very difficult family situation – should have that done as a result of your stupidity.” From This Is The West Country.
US: Man charged with aiming at vehicles and sheriff's helicopter
The Deltona man was charged with pointing a laser light at a driver/pilot, and could also be fined up to $11,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration.
From the Daytona Beach News-Journal and WFTV
Australia: Man aims at police helicopter, could be jailed for 2 years (UPDATED)
A Victoria Police spokesman said Melbourne has the highest number of incidents involving laser light, and “these incidents are occurring far too frequently….”
From The Age, Herald Sun and ABC News
UPDATE November 24 2011: Tam Nguyen pleaded guilty on November 24 2011. He was fined a total of AUD $3500. Details are in this LaserPointerSafety.com story.
UK: UPDATED - Laser pens prevent medical copter from landing
Late on September 7 2011, paramedics and an ambulance responded to a call about an elderly man who had collapsed in Caine, Wiltshire. They found the man had gone into cardiac arrest, and they called for the assistance of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance helicopter. It landed at the site but then took off again to burn fuel in order to carry the patient. As it tried to land for a second time, a “group of yobs” flashed laser pens at the pilot. He broke off the landing. The patient was then taken by ambulance to Great Western Hospital in Swindon, 20 miles away by road. Upon arrival, the man was pronounced dead after midnight on September 8.
Police said “at this stage, we are satisfied that the helicopter not being able to land did not affect the outcome of this incident.” They are searching for the laser-wielding perpetrators and are beginning a criminal investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call (0845) 4087000.
From The Independent , Wiltshire Times and BBC News
UPDATE September 15 2011: A story in the Gazette and Herald has some additional details about the incident.
UPDATE 2 March 15 2012: The two persons involved, Alex Cox and Luke Fortune, pleaded guilty. They had to pay £278 each and were given a conditional discharge (no punishment provided that no further offense is committed). More details are in a LaserPointerSafety.com news item here.
UK: Helicopter catches Southampton laser pen suspects
The three persons were arrested on suspicion of endangering an aircraft. They were held overnight. The teens were referred to the Youth Offending Team while the man received a caution.
From BBC News and the Daily Mail
Wales: Three boys arrested after lasing helicopter
From BBC News North East Wales
UK: Teens aim laser at helicopter; disrupt river rescue
Police located and spoke with three teens: a boy (15) and two girls (14 and 16). So far, no charges have been filed in the July 22 2011 incident. An investigation is ongoing.
From Cambridge News. Click the “Rescue” tag in the left hand column to find similar stories of disrupted rescue operations in the UK and elsewhere.
UPDATE October 3 2011: The Cambridge News reports that the boy has been “reprimanded” and has been “dealt with by the police.” The reprimand was for a first offense. If there is a second offense, a final warning would be issued. On the third offense, the person would be charged and sent to court. From the Cambridge News.
Russia: Laser beam shines on Moscow airplane
In a related story, Russia Today has posted a video showing what it looks like to be in an aircraft during a laser illumination:
Frame showing point of maximum dazzle when a laser beam hits the aircraft’s cockpit window. Click to see the YouTube video.
From UPI, and from Russia Today via YouTube
UPDATE July 28 2011: Bloomberg quotes news agency RIA Novosti as saying a suspect was caught on July 27. The 26-year-old told police “he couldn’t even imagine that his actions could cause a plane to crash.” The news agency says the suspect was 40 kilometers from the airport on Kosygin (Kosygina) Street in western Moscow.
The map shows the suspect’s location (A) in relation to Domodedovo Airport (B)
US: Helicopter pilot describes laser effects
No one has yet been caught in the incident, which took place over Terrell, Texas which is about 30 miles east of Dallas.
US: Fontana Calif. teen arrested
Fontana is near San Bernardino, and is about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
From the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
US: Second laser assault in a week in Glendale CA
31-year-old Erick Alberto Medina was arrested. He told officers that he did not point at the helicopter but instead had been using a telescope equipped with a laser pointer for sighting.
A police spokesperson said “It’s not a game. It’s not a joke. It’s an assault.”
Earlier, on May 22, a Glendale police helicopter was illuminated and officers made an arrest, as reported here.
From the Glendale News-Press
UPDATE, July 8 2011: Medina was arraigned in court. A news report did not list the exact charge against him, but did say that “he faces a possible three-year prison term if convicted.” From the Los Angeles Daily News
UPDATE 2, July 12 2011: Medina pleaded not guilty to one felony count of discharging a laser at an occupied aircraft. The court date was set for July 20. From the Glendale News-Press
US: Man arrested for helicopter illumination in Burbank CA
Rafael Torosyan, 30, was spotted in a park. Police followed him to an apartment building, where he was found hiding in a doorway. A laser pointer was found in his pocket and Torosyan was arrested on suspicion of discharging a laser at an aircraft.
From the Glendale News-Press
UPDATE MAY 31 2011: A Glendale police helicopter was lased again on May 27. Once again, officers were able to trace the source and arrest a suspect, as reported here.
UK: Dover-area sea search called off due to laser pen attack
Site of the search: Copt Point between Folkestone and Dover.
Photo by Chris Whippet, licensed under CC-by-SA 2.0.
Despite extensive searching by other means, rescuers did not locate the person who was reported to be in distress.
From Kent Online. Click the “Rescue” tag in the left hand column to find similar stories of disrupted rescue operations in the UK and elsewhere.
Russia: Two incidents in one week
On June 8, a pilot was blinded by a laser pointer while landing a Boeing passenger plane in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, but managed to land safely. The beam came from the area of a local market.
Earlier in the week a pilot of an Airbus A320 plane was blinded by a laser light during landing at the same airport
From RIA Novosti
UK: Teen charged in 30-minute attack
The incident happened May 18 2011 in the skies over the West Midlands area near Birmingham; the boy is from Warley (Birmingham Mail) or Sandwell (BBC). According to police, the pilot “used his skills to position the aircraft away from the beams during the ground attack.”
From the Birmingham Mail and the BBC
New Zealand: 2 teens charged after illuminating police helicopter
A police spokesperson did not want to comment about the incident because “he did not want to draw attention to it and risk copycat crimes.”
From the New Zealand Herald
UPDATE May 31 2011: Added the name of the second teenager, as reported by the Otago Daily Times
UPDATE 2 February 8 2012: The two persons appeared in court; a LaserPointerSafety.com news item is here
Australia: "Did not know the beam was strong enough to reach the plane"
20-year-old Nicholas Paul Gregory told police he had aimed at the aircraft, but “he did not know the beam was strong enough to reach the plane.” At trial, his defense lawyer said Gregory had no intent to harm anyone: “He is still shocked at his own stupidity and the consequences of his own stupidity.”
Gregory could have received a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
From the Brisbane Times
Australia: Arrest for aiming at TV station helicopter
From the Courier Mail and ABC News
UPDATE, June 29 2011: The man, Morgan Daniel Raine, was fined AUS $1000 (USD $1078) on the endangerment charge, plus $300 for possession of ecstasy which was found during a search of his apartment for the laser pointer. Raine said the lasing was stupid and he meant no harm. From the Courier Mail
Fined AUS $1000 for aiming a laser up to five times at a TV helicopter
Australia: Three aircraft targeted in Sydney
The first incident happened about 9 pm, the second was at 10:25 and the third came at 10:28. The pilot of the third airplane was illuminated directly in the eye; there was no reported injury.
News accounts noted that “high powered laser pointers are prohibited weapons and can’t be possessed without a permit.”
From Sky News and the Sydney Morning Herald
US: 30 days in jail for Midway laser illumination
The charge stemmed from a March 17 incident when he and Shania Smith, 22, aimed a laser at a Southwest Airlines flight that was landing at Midway Airport, and then again at a police helicopter that was investigating the Southwest illumination. Both Slater and Smith were initially charged with two counts of discharging a laser pointer at a police officer and four counts of discharging a laser at an aircraft. Smith is awaiting trial on May 4.
From the Chicago Sun-Times and WLS-AM
Germany: Man suspected in multiple laser incidents
A number of similar illuminations from Georgsmarienhütte had been previously reported. Police said they would investigate whether the man arrested was responsible for the other illuminations as well. The man would be charged with “dangerous interference with the aircraft”, which carries a sentence of six months to 10 years.
From NWZ Online and Bild.de (both in German)
US: Army helicopter crew illuminated over Pa., perpetrator sought
The perpetrator could be charged with reckless endangerment. Anyone with information is asked to call the state police at 717-865-2194.
There was no word as to whether the crew member claimed an injury, or had a non-injurious light exposure.
From WHTM. Note that the online story stated Route “465” at the time we viewed it, but police confirmed this is a typo; the road is Route 645.
US: Ohio man gets 2 days; says he did not understand laser's effect
When arrested, he admitted to his actions and handed the laser pointer to police. He had originally been charged with a felony (interfering with the operation of an aircraft with a laser), but on March 16 2011 he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, attempted interfering with operation of an aircraft. He told the court “I really do apologize for what happened. I didn't understand (that) what I did would have that effect."
Lyman was sentenced to the two days he served in jail after his arrest.
From the Columbus Dispatch
US: Three boys charged with felony near Nashville
The map shows the general area of the arrest:
US: 2 arrested at Midway for plane & helicopter illumination
The arrest site is about 5 miles east of Midway Airport:
From the Chicago Tribune. Thanks to Joanna Skubish for bringing this to our attention.
UPDATE, MARCH 19 2011: The aircraft was a Southwest Airlines flight from San Francisco, with 137 passengers and a crew of five, that was landing at Midway. Police arrested Shania Smith, 21, and Elvin Slater, 23. Smith had just met Slater for the first time earlier that day. Smith said “I don’t know how it got in my car”, and that the first time she saw it was during the arrest, according to the Chicago Tribune. Slater’s uncle said He's a good kid. He just didn't know what he was doing.” Both Smith and Slater were charged with “discharging a laser pointer at a police officer and discharging a laser at an aircraft”, which are misdemeanors.
Google Street View of the intersection where the arrest took place,
looking west towards Midway Airport
From an updated Chicago Tribune article
UPDATE, APRIL 1 2011: Smith pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count and received a 30-day jail sentence, 18 months probation, and one month in a sheriff’s work program. More information is here.
US: $5000 reward offered in Maryland airplane illumination
According to the FBI, the eyes of both pilots were injured. The pilots “took their eyes off of the instruments during final approach, but the aircraft landed safely.”
The reward money is coming from both the FBI and Maryland Transportation Authority Police. Anyone with information is urged to contact the FBI at 410-265-8080 or the Maryland Transportation Authority Police at 410-859-7041.
From the Baltimore Sun and HometownAnnapolis.com. Thanks to Dan Hewett, FDA/CDRH for bringing this to our attention.
US: California woman arrested for illuminating two helicopters
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Police said they hoped the arrest would send a message that this type of offense would be punished harshly.”
From the Los Angeles Times and the Long Beach Post
US: Maryland man arrested on multiple charges
David H. Hopwood of Sykesville, MD “repeatedly targeted” the helicopter. Ground police were notified; the helicopter then located the source. Hopgood was arrested by a trooper without incident.
"Shining lasers at aircraft can have dangerous and even deadly consequences," Maryland State Police said in a news release. "A direct laser strike in the cockpit can cause temporary blindness and disorientation for the flight crew."
From MSNBC via WBAL-TV
Thanks to Howard Donovan for bringing this to our attention.
US: Four years for laser pointer at helicopter
Jamie Allen Downie, 35, was given the sentence Friday January 22 2010 by Placer County Superior Court Judge Joseph O’Flaherty after he entered a plea of guilty to two felony counts of discharging a laser at an aircraft.
Four years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a helicopter
Pointing a laser beam at an aircraft in flight is a federal offense. A laser has the potential of blinding and disabling the pilot, which in turn could lead to the crash of the aircraft. Had he been prosecuted in federal court, Downie could have faced a longer prison sentence, according to Placer County Sheriff’s Sgt. Van Bogardus, the pilot who was the victim in the laser incident in Rocklin.Click to read more...
UK: 4 months jail; pilot turned controls over to co-pilot
Ben Philip Vout targeted a KLM flight coming in to land with 40 passengers at Durham Tees Valley Airport in northeast England, in August 2008. He also shone the device at a police helicopter sent to investigate.
Vout, 19, and from Heslop Street in Thornaby had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of endangering the safety of an aircraft.
Teesside Crown Court was told that the KLM flight had to be landed by the co-pilot.
From BBC News
US: 2.5 years in prison for Calif. man
2 1/2 years in prison for laser interference with pilots
Dana Christian Welch, 37, of Orange, California was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Welch also is to serve three years of supervised release after completing his prison term, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherilyn Peace Garnett said.Click to read more...
Canada: Pilot suffers retinal damage; off work for months
It was not clear from the story what type of aircraft -- fixed wing or helicopter -- the pilot was flying at the time.
Captain Barry Wiszniowski of the Air Canada Pilots Association, stated "Our judicial system has to understand the severity of the consequences. It would be catastrophic if a pilot was impaired by a laser and lost all situational awareness."
More statistics and information from Canadian OH&S News.
UK: Teenager apologizes to helicopter crew
The pilot was quoted as saying "Dennis has learned how dangerous this type of incident can be, and I hope that others will understand the same lesson."
Full story, with photo of the meeting, from BBC News
US: 2 Columbus men charged with felonies
Dennis Smoke, 45, was arrested with Levi Milstead, 19. Each is charged with two counts of pointing a laser at an aircraft and one count each possession of criminal tools. Conviction carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
More details from The Columbus Dispatch
US: Apparent copycat laser incident in Buffalo
The second-night suspects were not found, as of the following day.
More at WIVB.com and the last two paragraphs of this Buffalo News story.
UK: 180 hours of community service "for a laugh"
A police inspector was quoted as saying “The sentence handed out sends a clear warning to anyone else considering such reckless behaviour. Endangering an aircraft is a criminal offence and it will not be tolerated.”
From the Richmond-Twickenham Times and The Independent.
US: Felony arrest for shining laser at CHP helicopter
The story noted that “at least six other people have been busted for pointing lasers at aircraft in the Sacramento area over the past several months.”
From CBS13 news in Sacramento, CA
French Polynesia: Pilot "blinded" on approach
The pilot has told a Tahiti newspaper that he was blinded as the plane with its 290 passengers on board was at an altitude of 3,000 feet and he was about to finalise the approach to the airport.
The pilot has lodged a formal complaint and police say they have established that the laser was directed from the port area.
A similar incident occurred last year  when young people pointed lasers at a plane from near the runway.
From Radio New Zealand International
French Polynesia: 15 days in jail for pointing laser at plane
Police, who were alerted by the pilot after he was blinded, say the man was unaware of the risks his action posed.
There is no regulation in French Polynesia on the sale of lasers which can be beamed up to 17 kilometers.
From Radio New Zealand International
Australia: Three years jail for aiming laser at helicopter
The South Australian pleaded guilty to prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft. Judge David Smith described Baldetti's actions as a disaster in the making, and sentenced him to two years and 10 months jail, with a non-parole period of 10 months.
Click to read more...