True-crime research, novel writing research, and updates.
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BLOG POST #249: Blinding Laser
You hear about people pointing lasers at airplanes on the news, but then the story falls into the internet abyss. I’ve never noticed follow-up stories.
Shining a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime—everyone knows it’s a no-no. In 2019, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded 6,136 laser incidents. The highest number occurred in December—608. That’s an average of almost twenty per day!
When a pilot reports an incident, the FAA investigators work with local law enforcement to bring the individual to justice. Witness interviews and video recordings near the incident play a big role in enforcement.
In December 2018, a 45-year-old man, from residential back yard, directed a laser pointer toward the pilots of a police helicopter flying over the neighborhood. In February of the next year, a federal grand jury had indicted him.
This wasn’t his first crime. He’d been in and out of jail for various crimes since his teenage years. And he hadn’t merely pointed the laser at the pilots, he kept it pointed at them continuously for approximately two minutes.
By August, the man agreed to plead guilty to aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. In December, a year after the incident, his attorneys argued for probation because he didn’t understand the harm a laser could cause. A U.S. District Judge sentenced him to 15-months in prison and three years of supervised release.
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Thanks for reading! Be well and stay safe.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of transportation – Federal Aviation Administration, Washington Examiner, Beloit Daily News
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