A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

India: Private rooftop parties blamed for Kolkata laser illuminations of pilots

Private rooftop parties are being blamed for pilot-blinding laser incidents in Kolkata. The beams come from apartment buildings located along the flight path to the airport.

In 2016, there were problems with “clubs and party hubs.” The Airports Authority of India asked the to replace lasers with LEDs, and most complied.

The new problem seems to be private parties, which “are more difficult to track and act against.”

The chairman of the Airline Operator’s Committee said "We don't want to spoil the fun for anyone. The only message that needs to go out is that one shouldn't endanger the lives of others for a bit of fun. I am sure once there is awareness about threat to flights, there will be compliance.”

From a December 27 2017 article in the Times of India. See also a story about similar problems in Mumbai.

US: Teen arrested for aiming laser at Oklahoma City police helicopter

On December 26 2017, the Oklahoma City Police Department helicopter was illuminated by a green laser beam, three times.

The crew directed ground officers to a home where 19-year-old Iban Balderas was arrested. He was charged with violating Oklahoma’s Laser Safety Act.

From KFOR.com

US: Multiple laser strikes over Oakland

Seven incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft landing at Oakland International Airport were reported within a few days in mid-December 2017. The laser strikes appeared to be targeting small private planes. Authorities are searching for the source.

Separately in Oakland, a green laser was aimed at a California Highway Patrol helicopter flying over a car “sideshow” on December 17 2017 (story here).

2017-12-17 laser aimed at police helicopter Oakland
Video from the CHP helicopter shows a suspect repeatedly and deliberately aiming the laser


From CBS SF Bay Area and NBC Bay Area

UK: Multiple aircraft hit by laser light while landing at Gatwick

Five aircraft approaching London’s Gatwick Airport on December 18 2017 reported that green laser light was aimed at them. Four of the incidents occurred between 7:00 and 8:00 pm; the fifth occurred around midnight.

The illuminations occurred as they flew over Ashdown Forest, open heathland 30 miles south of London. Police said “We believe the person or persons responsible were located in the Hartfield area.” They asked for anyone with information to call them.

From Crawley News 24

US: Teen arrested in Florida for aiming laser at sheriff's helicopter

A 15-year-old boy from Bradenton Florida was arrested for aiming a green laser beam multiple times at a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office helicopter on December 12 2017.

The helicopter crew directed ground officers to a home in Bradenton, where the teen was arrested. According to a sheriff’s office spokesperson, the boy was not able to explain why he pointed the laser at the helicopter.

The unnamed youth was taken to the Juvenile Booking Facility.

From the Bradenton Herald

US: California man indicted for hitting two helicopters with laser beam

A 31-year-old man from Turlock, California, was indicted December 14 2017 on two federal counts of aiming a laser beam at aircraft.

On October 22 2017, Roger Shane John struck a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department helicopter five to six times with a green laser, causing visual interference and disrupting an air support response to a domestic violence call.

At around the same time, John also aimed a laser 3-4 times at CalStar 12, an emergency medical helicopter.

Conviction would result in jail time of up to five years, and a fine of up to $250,000.

John had numerous prior run-ins with law enforcement, including convictions for domestic violence, identity theft, possession of a controlled substance for sale, being a felon in possession of a firearm and making threats with intent to terrorize.

Roger Shane John laser Turlock Calif
Roger Shane John

From the Modesto Bee and a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California

US: NY man who antagonized police, denies aiming laser at helicopter

A Suffolk County (NY) man who previously admitted to damaging red light cameras, was accused by police of aiming a laser beam at a police helicopter. The man, dubbed “the Red Light Robin Hood” by the press, denied the accusation.

Stephen Ruth said he was not home at the time, that no one aimed a laser beam from his property, and that police are targeting him. “I find it very suspicious the commissioner would accuse me when the same day I attempted to form an anti-corruption taskforce in the county.”

Police said they “have no doubt the laser came from that home” in the December 6 2017 incident. The helicopter had been looking for a missing teenager.

Ruth had previously mis-aimed red light cameras, and cut wiring in about 20-30 systems, to protest what he called an unsafe money grab by Suffolk County. He said only a jury could give him a fair hearing.

From CBS New York, laser story and earlier story on red light damage.

US: Helicopter pilot lands; detains laser pointer suspect

Officers in a helicopter flying for the Pasco (Florida) County Sheriff’s Office were illuminated by laser light on December 5 2017. The pilot landed the aircraft in an empty parking lot, walked to the suspect’s home, and detained him.

Pilot Stephen Bowman was assisting with a situation involving a barricaded suspect, when he was hit by the laser at around 10:50 pm. Bowman told Bay News 9, “It blinded us temporarily for a couple of seconds — extremely painful. Once we came to, we saw a couple more flashes from the laser." Examination of video from the helicopter showed about 10 flashes.

Bowman began tracking the suspect. After landing the helicopter and going to the suspect’s home, there he detained Ryan Fluke, 27.

Bowman said Fluke was “a little confused”, asking where the helicopter was. Fluke also told Bowman he was doing it for fun. Fluke did not realize that lasers could travel a long distance (the helicopter was about 800 feet in the air). Fluke apologized to Bowman.

Fluke was charged with a third-degree felony, misuse of laser lighting devices. He had 12 previous arrests in Pasco County.

Ryan Fluke laser squashed80pct
Ryan Fluke

From the Bradenton Herald and ABC News, whose story includes police video of what the laser looked like from the air.

Canada: Pilot has blurred vision after green laser strike

The first officer of an Air Canada flight on approach to Toronto Pearson International Airport was illuminated by green laser light. The first officer suffered “blurred vision and discomfort lasting for 10-15 minutes” according to a Transport Canada report.

The Airbus A319 had 113 passengers onboard when the incident occurred in November 2017. The captain was able to safely land the aircraft.

The report said that several other aircraft also reported laser light at the same point in their approach, for two nights in a row. The light was reported to be coming from persons in a park.

From mid-November to December 6 2017, there were 23 laser illuminations of commercial aircraft in the Toronto area. Nationwide, there were 381 laser strikes as of the first week of December 2017, down from the approximately 600 incidents reported in 2015 and 2016.

From
The Star

US: Some reports of Christmas laser lights causing interference

There have been 13 incidents reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that involve, or possibly involve, laser Christmas lights, from November 20 through December 2 2017.

The first reported Christmas-related incident of 2017 came on November 20. As of this writing, December 2 is the last date for which incident information is available.

There are 13 days from November 20 through December 2. With 13 potential Christmas-related incidents, that is a rate of one Christmas incident per day.

In the previous 323 days of 2017, from January 1 through November 19, there were 5,734 incidents or 17.8 per day.

So Christmas lights appear to be adding one extra incident per day (a 5.6% increase), early in the holiday season.

This story will be updated as additional December incident data becomes available.

Based on FAA incident reporting. See our page on Christmas holiday laser projectors for more information, plus these pages about holiday lighting reports here and here.

US: UPDATED - California man aims laser at Border Patrol helicopter

A man who claimed he was aiming a laser at a drone, was charged on November 30 2017 with aiming a laser pointer into a Border Patrol helicopter flying near Chula Vista, California.

On August 19 2017, the helicopter was flying over power lines when the cockpit lit up briefly with laser light. The helicopter spotter had to close his eyes. The pilot then aimed the aircraft’s searchlight down at the source of the laser beam, a person in a Jeep Patriot. The laser continued to be aimed at the helicopter.

Chula Vista police stopped the SUV. 27-year-old Michael Angelo Ramirez, a passenger, told them he shined the laser at what he thought was a drone, and the drone aimed a light back. He said he turned off the laser once he realized he had hit a helicopter.

However, the driver of the Jeep told police that it was clear the aircraft was a helicopter and not a drone.

Ramirez was taken into custody and later was released. After his arraignment on November 30 2017 he was taken back into custody. Ramirez faces up to five years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine.

From the Times of San Diego

UPDATED December 28 2017 - Ramirez pleaded guilty to one charge of aiming at an aircraft, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

US: Two years probation, $2000 fine for Arizona man who lased sheriff department's plane

An Arizona man was sentenced November 28 2017 to two years probation, and was fined $2,000 for aiming a laser pointer at a Pima County Sheriff’s Department aircraft on April 10 2017.

Timothy Wade Demery pleaded guilty in September to the federal charge. He could have received up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. By a plea agreement, the maximum would have been reduced to up to six months in prison.

Demery’s public defender asked the judge to only sentence Demery to probation. The lawyer said of Demery, “He is sorry that he pointed the laser at the airplanes going over his house, but he didn’t think it would cause harm. He knows now that it could have been a problem, and that it is a federal offense. He will never do it again.”

At the November sentencing hearing, Demery apologized to the judge, who said “I’d hate to think some yahoo like you is pointing a laser at my plane.”

The judge decided on two years probation and a $2,000 fine. Demery is also prohibited from possessing a laser pointer; apparently during the term of his probationary period.

From the Arizona Daily Star

US: Florida man arrested for aiming at sheriff's office helicopter

A 35-year-old man was arrested for aiming a laser pointer at a Hernando County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office helicopter on November 26 2017.

The aircraft was searching for a missing child at the time. The pilot and tactical flight officer were illuminated five times by the laser. It affected their ability to see and to give updated locations of the child, whom they had spotted shortly before the laser strikes.

Eric D. Harper was arrested at his home. Harper admitted to aiming at the aircraft. He told the arresting officers that he was sorry and he was unaware aiming a laser at an aircraft was illegal.

Eric D Harper laser
Eric D. Harper

From the Tampa Bay Times and ABC Action News

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: Both stories quoted the sheriff’s office as saying that viewing a laser from infrared equipment such as FLIR cameras can severely damage the human eye.” This is not true. The laser may cause the FLIR viewing screen to “bloom” to full white or full green, which is very bright and of course can interfere with vision. The laser might even damage the FLIR sensor. But the FLIR sensor stops the laser beam itself — no laser light can enter the eye, and thus no eye damage could occur.

UK: 20 week jail sentence for Leicester man who aimed a laser at a police helicopter

Neil Stephen Wright, 35, was sentenced to 20 weeks in jail for aiming a laser at a police helicopter multiple times on October 10 2017. Eighteen of the weeks were for the laser incident, with an additional two weeks for breaching an earlier suspended sentence relating to a battery charge.

The incident occurred October 10 2017. The pilot was dazzled and had to abandon his mission. Wright was found at his home on Croyland Green, Thurnby Lodge, Leicester. He admitted to aiming the laser at the aircraft while “larking around.”

Sentencing occurred around November 24 2017.

Wright’s defender said Wright’s actions were “thoughtless stupidity,” that he “didn’t realize his behavior was a criminal offence,” and that he was “genuinely remorseful.”

The judge told Wright “The seriousness of this offence is blindingly obvious. You could have caused the death of those people performing a public duty and, as it was over a residential area, there could have been further fatalities."

Neil Stephen Wright laser
Neil Stephen Wright

From BBC News and the Leicester Mercury

Micronesia: First FSM prosecution for aiming a laser at an aircraft

On or around November 21 2017, Isak Rawit became the first person to be prosecuted in the Federated States of Micronesia for aiming a laser at an aircraft.

At about 9:40 pm on October 29 2017, and at 2:30 am the next morning, the pilots of a United Airlines plane reported green laser light being aimed at them.

The laser was traced to Rawit, who had been fishing in waters off Ruo in Chuuk State. Police said the laser was similar to military grade laser pointers; it was six inches long with a flashlight mode and red and green lasers.

Rawit admitted that each time he saw the plane overhead, he aimed his laser pointer at the aircraft.

In FSM, it is not illegal to own that type of laser pointer, but it is illegal to point it at an aircraft.

Rawit could be jailed for up to five years, and could be fined up to $10,000.

From Marianas Variety

India: 24 laser incidents in eight months at Mumbai airport

From January until September 2017, there were 24 reports of lasers being aimed at aircraft flying to or from Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.

In 2015 there were 24 laser reports in the entire year, and 15 reports during 2016.

In addition to the laser hazards, pilots also reported three drones and two sky lanterns during the first nine months of 2017.

Pilots report cases of laser attacks and lanterns to the Air Traffic Control (ATC), which conveys the information to the airport operator, who reports the incident to the local police. However, policemen said there is no specific law or government notification to deal with such cases.

A police official on condition of anonymity said, “In such complaints, we first find out the reason the light was flashed. If the laser light was coming from a wedding ceremony or any other function, then as a preventive action, we alert concerned people and sensitise them about its dangerous effects on aircraft. However, nothing can be done legally as there is no law under which we can produce anyone in court.”

From the Hindustan Times and Times of India. About a month later, Kolkata reported similar problems with rooftop parties using lasers under the flight path of aircraft.

US: Oregon pilot lased eight times in two years; goes door-to-door to find perpetrators

A pilot who flies around Grants Pass and Merlin (Oregon) has reported eight laser incidents in two years.

According to a local airport manager, Salvador Corona “flies at night more than most pilots, and is very upset about the targeting. He knocked on doors and talked to people after he suspected someone was using a laser in a neighborhood near the airport in Merlin. He said he’s going to buy a pair of protective glasses to wear while flying…”

From the Grants Pass Daily Courier via the Register-Guard

US: Man aims laser from car at police helicopter, evades arrest, crashes

A man in a moving car aimed a green laser beam at a Fresno (Calif.) Police Department helicopter. A passenger in the car said the man, Michael Vincent Alvarez, did it because he “thought it would be funny to point a laser at the helicopter.” Alvarez then led officers on a high-speed chase which ended when the car crashed into a median; he suffered minor injuries.

At about 12:45 am on October 22 2017, the helicopter was providing support to ground units responding to a domestic violence disturbance when it was continuously illuminated by a green laser beam. The tactical flight officer was hit three times in the eyes.

The pilot had momentary flashblindness and lost night vision. The tactical flight officer had watering eyes, discomfort and pain. There was no reported eye injury.

The helicopter broke off from its mission to pursue the laser perpetrator.

The beam came from the driver’s side of a car traveling north on Highway 99 in Fresno. Ground officers pursued Alvarez’s car, which began a high-speed chase. Twice during the chase Alvarez stopped to drop off passengers. The car eventually crashed into a median. Alvarez got out and ran towards neighboring homes. He was apprehended by officers in the backyard of a home after a short foot pursuit.

Alvarez had minor injuries from the crash and was taken to a hospital for treatment. At the hospital, a baggie was found with substances suspected to be marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Inside the car’s driver side door pocket police found a laser marked “Laser 303” with a green multi-dot beam (perhaps a diffraction grating making a star-field-like pattern) and a danger label.

After an FBI investigation, Alvarez was charged with violating federal law by knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft or its flight path. In addition, there were two previous felony warrants out for Alvarez’s arrest on other, unspecified charges.

From a report by Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica. The criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California is here.

UPDATED May 7 2018 — Michael Vincent Alvarez was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the October 22 2017 incident. From KMPH and the Fresno Bee.

Australia: Sydney teen arrested for aiming a laser at a police helicopter

An unnamed 17-year-old boy was arrested November 9 2017 in western Sydney, for aiming a laser pen at a New South Wales Police helicopter.

The aircraft was on patrol when the incident occurred. The teen was found hiding in a backyard. He will be subject to the Young Offenders Act.

From the Daily Telegraph and Mirage News

Solomon Islands: After laser strikes on aircraft, warning to offenders

The Civil Aviation of Solomon Islands has issued a strong warning to any offender convicted of committing the use of high powered laser pointers against any operating aircraft in the country.

In a statement the Acting Director of Civil Aviation Brian Halisanau said according to the Solomon Islands Civil Aviation Act 2008 Section 213, offender convicted of committing the use of high powered laser pointers against any operating aircraft would be liable to pay a penalty of SBD $300,000 or serve a 14-year term imprisonment.

Halisanau said the warning came as pilots recently reported cases of high powered laser green strike incidents on aircraft arriving and departing Honiara International Airport at night.

He said some of these incidents took place immediately after take-off, and probably before the pilots had fully transitioned onto instrument flight or when the aircraft was established on approach to the runway.

Halisanau added that this was dangerous, as direct eye exposure to one of these laser beams could result in momentary “flash blindness'” for the pilots at a critical stage of the aircraft approach or departure.

From SIBC

US: Utah man indicted for aiming laser twice at medical helicopter

A 25-year-old man from Coalville, Utah, was indicted on November 2 2017 for aiming a laser two times at an AirMed helicopter.

The first laser strike occurred about 3 a.m. on August 28 2017 as the pilot was flying from Wyoming to Salt Lake City. On the return flight, the pilot was illuminated again, from the same location. He identified a vehicle for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, who dispatched ground units that arrested Ryan Michael Kane.

If convicted, Kane could be sentenced to up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

From Gephardt Daily

US: Crew member has partial vision loss from laser illumination

A crew member on a medical rescue flight said he lost 30 percent of the vision in his right eye, after being illuminated by a green laser on September 15 2017 while on approach to Centennial Airport, located 17 miles southeast of Denver, Colorado.

Respiratory therapist Justin Misuraca was sitting in the co-pilot’s seat of a Flight for Life plane, helping the pilot watch for other air traffic, when a bright green light filled his vision. He closed his eyes and looked away; when he opened his eyes he was blinded for a few seconds.

A few days later he saw an eye specialist. Misuraca said the specialist told him “…there was a burn all the way to the back of my eye, and I’m missing 30 percent of my vision in an upside-down V.” He was told the burn was “half a millimeter from my optic nerve.”

Justin Misuraca laser injury 500w
This screenshot from the KUSA 9news segment “Next” shows Justin Misuraca with a triangular blur overlay that the program says represents the visual effect of the laser injury. The area is highlighted below between the green lines to better define the area.

Justin Misuraca laser injury highlighted 500w

Misuraca reported this in an October 25 2017 interview with a reporter, so the vision loss was still present over a month after the laser illumination.

The pilot on the September 15 flight also reported temporary blindness but has no permanent injury.

According to Flight for Life, there have been “at least a dozen times in the last couple of years” that the organization’s aircraft have been targeted by a laser beam. The source of the September 15 laser illumination is unknown.

From October 25 and October 26 reports by 9news.com

US: Coast Guard helicopter on practice flight is lased; lands immediately to get medical checkup

From a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard on October 12 2017:

Coast Guard seeks tips, information on recent laser attacks on helicopters

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — The Coast Guard is asking the public for tips or information regarding recent laser attacks aimed against rescue helicopter crews.

The latest attack occurred Tuesday evening near the Arcata-Eureka airport as an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay was conducting a practice instrument approach.

The helicopter was southeast of the airport when a green laser coming from a wooded area about three miles east of McKinleyville, was shined directly at the aircraft. The pilots quickly landed so the crew members could receive medical checkups.

“Laser attacks against aircraft are a crime because of the danger they present to aviators and the public," said Capt. Greg Fuller, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay. “Our aircrews put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to save others in distress. These laser incidents significantly impact our ability to respond and we ask the public's help in identifying the sources.”

It is a federal crime, as well as a violation of California state law to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft. Punishment under state law ranges from civil penalties of $1,000 up to $2,000 and three years imprisonment. Federal law allows for a punishment of imprisonment of up to five years.

Lasers, including common laser pointers, can cause glare, flash blindness, temporary loss of night vision and more permanent damage such as blind spots, cataracts and partial or total loss of visual acuity.

The Coast Guard encourages anyone who sees someone lasing any aircraft to call 911 to report the crime immediately.

Information about some California aviation laser incidents, including arrests and convictions of laser aircraft attackers, can be seen here:
http://laserpointersafety.com/news/news/aviation-incidents_files/tag-california.php

US: California man aims purple laser at sheriff's helicopter

A San Bernardino (Calif.) County sheriff’s helicopter was illuminated several times by purple laser light on October 11 2017.

The crew was able to direct ground officers to a residence. There they identified Christopher Wayne Flora, 35, as the suspect and arrested him.

He was charged with suspicion of discharging a laser at an operations control center aircraft, which is a felony. Bail was set at $25,000.

From the San Bernardino Sun

Northern Ireland: Teen arrested or aiming laser at police helicopter in Belfast

A teenager was arrested on October 5 2017 for aiming a laser at a Police Service of Northern Ireland helicopter.

The aircraft was monitoring crowds attending a football match in Belfast. The unnamed 19-year-old was charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft and shining a light to dazzle or distract a pilot.

From the Belfast Telegraph

US: 54-year-old woman arrested for multiple laser strikes on CHP helicopter

A California Highway Patrol helicopter was illuminated multiple times on September 20 2017, allegedly by an unnamed 54-year-old woman.

The helicopter was searching for a violent robbery suspect. The crew was forced to stop the search in order to identify the source of the laser.

CHP helicopter laser Sept 20 2017 01
Laser light from a direct hit overwhelms the camera lens for one frame of the CHP helicopter’s surveillance

CHP helicopter laser Sept 20 2017 02
A second later, the suspect can be seen (left) walking with what appears to be a child (right) in the middle of the road.


The CHP crew directed ground officers to a San Leandro house where the woman was arrested and a laser pointer was confiscated. CHP said the woman had other lasers in her home as well.

The FBI is investigating.

From the Mercury News and KRON (link to video is here)

UK: Pilots at Blackpool Airport want action taken about laser pen incidents

A series of laser pointer incidents have led pilots from Blackpool Airport to call for action.

One pilot said “We want this to stop before we have to dig one of our aircraft out of the beach…. Incidents like this are happening more and more frequently, three different occasions recently, and that’s just our pilots – there are many more flying clubs and school at Blackpool Airport.”

An incident on September 22 2017 happened to a pilot flying prior to a fireworks competition. A laser came from the crowd, deliberately tracking the aircraft. He said “The whole cockpit lit up, it was a real shock.”

2017-09 Blackpool Airport 01_250px 2017-09 Blackpool Airport 02_250px 2017-09 Blackpool Airport 03_250px
Three frames from the Sept. 22 incident show the laser, barely visible in the first photo, lighting up the cockpit window in the second photo and nearly obscuring all ground lights in the third photo.


Blackpool Airport is in Lancashire, in northwest England. There do not appear to be any suspects or arrests in the recent incidents.

From The Gazette

US: Virginia man arrested for aiming blue laser at police helicopter

A 45-year-old man from Centreville (Va.) was arrested for aiming a blue laser pointer three times at a Fairfax County Police Department helicopter on September 23 2017.

According to a police Facebook post, “the officers were temporarily blinded by the laser, but there were no serious injuries.” The source of the laser was traced to a vehicle on Manassas Gap Court in Centreville.

Carlos Zapata Rivero was charged with shining a light/laser pointer at an aircraft, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

From WJLA TV and FairfaxNews


Cayman: UPDATED - Trial begins for man who pointed laser at police helicopter in 2015

Trial of a Cayman man, charged with multiple counts of aiming a red laser beam at a police helicopter, began September 13 2017. The incident took place on April 29 2015.

Officers on the ground had seen a red laser beam that appeared to be attached to a firearm. The helicopter was sent to investigate. A detective in the helicopter testified that he saw a bright red light which was pointed at the aircraft numerous times. The detective said he was worried for the pilot’s vision, and also that the laser could be attached to a weapon.

He radioed a description of the suspect to ground officers. Based on his appearance, officers approached Javonnie Silburn, then approximately 19 years old. They asked if he had a laser; Silburn said yes and showed them a device that had both an LED light and a red laser beam. He was arrested on a charge of endangering an aircraft.

Later Silburn told police that he did not do it, that it was another man.

Prior to the trial, Silburn attempted to plead guilty to shining the laser at the helicopter one time. But the Crown did not accept the plea due to the multiple times the laser was directed at the aircraft.

The endangerment charge was apparently dropped. Silburn, now 21, is being tried on a charge of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior within the sight or hearing of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

Under cross-examination on the first day of the trial, the detective admitted he could not say definitely that Silburn was the person with the laser, only that he identified a man with an Afro hairstyle and short pants.

According to the Cayman Compass, there was a separate laser incident in November 2015 involving police aircraft.

From stories in the Cayman Compass by Carol Winker. (August 31 2017 story about trial being set, Sept. 13 2017 story about initial court proceedings, Sept. 14 2017 story about trial being delayed for a few days).

UPDATED September 28 2017 - The trial was delayed until October 11 2017.

Spain: British father and son face €600,000 fine for aiming laser at multiple aircraft

A 41-year-old British father and his 15-year-old son, who were vacationing in Spain, could be fined up to €600,000 (USD $700,000) for aiming a laser pointer at passenger aircraft approaching Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport.

The incident happened around 11 pm on August 8 2017. An off-duty police officer happened to see the pair on a hotel balcony in Torremolinos, a coastal resort town about 13 miles south of the airport.

British father son laser balcony in Spain
Photo from Spanish police showing laser light coming from a balcony

Two laser pens were seized:

British father son laser pens seized in Spain

Pilots of at least three commercial aircraft had complained about being dazzled with green light as they prepared to land.

While the British father and son were not arrested, Spanish National Police called it a “very serious violation” and said the fine could be from €30,000 to €600,000 (USD $35,000 to $600,000).

From Sky News, the Daily Mail and ITV News

US: North Carolina teen arrested for aiming laser at police helicopter

Around 1 am on August 9 2017, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department helicopter was targeted by a green laser pointer. The crew spotted a person standing outside a vehicle, holding a laser.

They notified ground officers who located the vehicle, found a laser inside, and arrested 18-year-old Abrahan Saloman Nass Romero, aka Abrahan Nasser. The officers also found marijuana in the vehicle.

Abrahan Saloman Nass Romero laser
Abrahan Saloman Nass Romero


Romero was charged with pointing a laser at an aircraft — a felony — and with possession of marijuana up to one-half ounce. Records show Romero had previously been arrested for marijuana possession, for speeding, and for driving without a license.

Since January 2017 there have been 19 incidents reported to the Federal Aviation Administration of lasers being pointed at aircraft in the Charlotte area.

From the Charlotte Observer and WSCO TV

US: 12-year-old Portland child said to aim laser at police helicopter numerous times

On July 24 2017, a Portland Police Bureau airplane searching for a stolen car was illuminated several times with a laser. Officers on the ground found a 12-year-old child playing with a laser pointer.

The officers told the child and the child’s family that the laser misuse was hazardous. Officers confiscated the laser and forwarded the police report to the Multnomah County Juvenile Department. Fox 12 reported “the suspect was taken to the Multnomah County juvenile detention center.”

The police sent the following tweet:

Laser 303 12-year-old Portland


This is a close-up of the label:

Laser 303 12-year-old Portland label


From the AP via the
Washington Times, Fox 12 and KATU

Canada: UPDATED - Two laser incidents in two days in P.E.I.; child said to have caused one

On July 15 2017, a green laser beam was pointed at an Air Force search-and-rescue aircraft near Fernwood, Prince Edward Island. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the laser was aimed at the aircraft for about 15-20 minutes. A pilot was “dazzled” by the light. The crew were later checked by an eye specialist. None of them had serious or lasting vision problems due to the laser.

The next night, a green laser beam was pointed for 5-10 seconds at a commercial aircraft as it was preparing to land in Charlottetown, which is about 60 km east of Fernwood. The beam came from the Brackley Beach area about 15 km northwest of the Charlottetown Airport, at about 11 pm local time. Neither pilot in the WestJet aircraft looked into the light; they were able to land without incident.

RCMP on July 17 asked the public for help in finding the perpetrators of these incidents.

A follow-up news story quoted a former pilot as saying the person responsible should “face justice.” He said it was a “very dangerous thing to have happen to you, and they are so destructive… Make the penalties very severe when they’re caught.”

In Canada, shining a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense punishable to up to five years in prison and/or up to $100,000.

On July 18, a witness contacted RCMP to say he was on Brackley Beach from 10:00 to 11:30 pm. He said a child of about 10-12 years old was using a laser to point at several things, including two aircraft. He said the child was tracing the path of a plane, but was not trying to shine it in the cockpit.

The child and his or her family is not known. RCMP said charges might not be placed in this case: “It does appear that this specific incident was a child at play and not a direct criminal offence. That being said, the child was in the custodial guardianship of two adults and RCMP are asking that items of this nature not be used for entertainment and not be provided to young children as they are unaware of the danger that they can inflict."

The director general for civil aviation, Aaron McCrorie, said there were 333 reported incidents in 2012, 590 incidents in 2015, and 527 in 2016. He said there was only one reported laser/aircraft incident in PEI in the past five years; it took place in 2015.

McCrorie said there have been no accidents in Canada due to such incidents but there have been some cases of permanent eye damage to pilots.

From CBC News (
initial report, follow-up, witness report, McCrorie quotes) and OHS Canada

Note: LaserPointerSafety reached out to Transport Canada for clarification about McCrorie’s claim of cases of permanent eye damage to pilots, since we are unaware of any such documented cases with civil pilots either in Canada or worldwide. On July 20 2017, we received an email response from Julie Leroux, Communications Advisor, Media Relations, Transport Canada:

“Laser pointers have serious effects that distract and temporarily blind pilots. While Transport Canada has received reports of pilots experiencing eye damage as a result of a laser strike, due to doctor-patient confidentiality, the department is not in a position to provide details about specific cases.

Generally, pilots report suffering from eye irritation or light sensitivity after being struck in the eye by a laser, which could seriously affect their ability to fly safely.

Mr. Aaron McCrorie, Director General, Civil Aviation, was referring to Canadian cases only.”


On July 26 2017, Leroux further clarified via email:

"Mr. Aaron McCrorie, Director General, Civil Aviation, was misquoted in the [CBC News] story you reference. During the interview he stated Transport Canada is aware of incidents that caused temporary damage to pilots’ eyes, but did not refer to a specific case of permanent blinding. Transport Canada is not aware of any cases where a pilot suffered permanent eye damage as the result of a laser strike."

Northern Ireland: Man arrested for aiming at police helicopter

An unnamed man in his 30s was arrested for aiming a laser pen at a Police Service of Northern Ireland in mid-July 2017.

The helicopter was helping the Coastguard trying to locate a lost person, when the laser illumination occurred.

The man was arrested for endangering an aircraft and was released on bail.

From
BelfastLive

US: Georgia man arrested for aiming at police helicopter

A 47-year-old Georgia man was arrested for aiming a laser at a Gwinnett County police helicopter.

On July 5 2017, the helicopter pilots saw green laser light in the cockpit. They were able to trace it to a location in Johns Creek where ground officers arrested Marius Lizunas. He told them he was using a laser rangefinder to “check the range” to the aircraft.

Lizunas was charged with aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

Marius Lizunas laser
Marius Lizunas


From U.S. News and World Report and WSB-TV

US: FBI looking for source of two July 4 laser illuminations in Cleveland

There have been numerous news reports in Cleveland, Ohio based on the FBI looking for the perpetrators of two laser illuminations. Below is a press release from the Cleveland FBI that describes the incident and the FBI’s search.

Seeking Information Regarding Laser Strikes

Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for the Northern District of Ohio, and Calvin Williams, chief of Cleveland Division of Police, are seeking information regarding two recent laser strikes, one against a Cleveland Division of Police helicopter and one against a MetroHealth Life helicopter.

Both of these laser strikes occurred on July 4, 2017, at approximately 10:15 p.m. from the 3000 block of West 31st Street in Cleveland, Ohio.

The main hazard for aviation is that pilots can be distracted or temporarily flash-blinded by the light from a laser beam. The light often is a large light at aviation distances, unlike the tiny dot a laser makes at close range. Individuals often do not realize that traveling over hundreds of feet a tiny, two-centimeter laser beam spreads to become approximately six feet of light that can block a pilot’s vision. Most laser strike incidents reported occur at flights under 10,000 feet with the highest percentage being altitudes under 6,000 feet.

Laser strikes are investigated by local and federal law enforcement. Under 18 USC 39 (A), whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned. Under 49 USC Section 46301 (a) (5) (A), the FAA may seek a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 per violation for aiming a laser at an aircraft in violation of C.F.R. Section 91.11.

The FBI and our law enforcement partners are asking the public if they have any knowledge of the laser strikes that occurred last week. If anyone has any information please call the Cleveland Division of the FBI at (216) 522-1400. Tips can remain anonymous and reward money is available for the successful identification and prosecution of the individual(s) responsible for these laser strikes.

Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D. Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI at (216) 522-1400 or vicki.anderson@ic.fbi.gov or Sargent Jennifer Ciaccia at the Cleveland Division of Police at (216) 623-5033.


From an FBI Cleveland news release dated July 12 2017. Here are two typical news reports, from Fox8 and from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Canada: Edmonton woman charged with aiming laser at police helicopter

Sarah Schenker, 28, was said to have repeatedly aimed a laser pointer at an Edmonton Police Service air crew, early on the morning of July 11 2017.

She was arrested and charged with endangering the safety of an aircraft in flight. Schenker faces a maximum jail sentence of five years, and a fine up to $100,000.

A police spokesperson said their helicopters experience about six laser pointer incidents each year. He said “It’s been fairly quiet lately, which is really good.”

From the Edmonton Journal, and RedDeer News Now via the Canadian Press

US: Probation for Tulsa man who lased police helicopter

A man who aimed a green laser beam at a Tusla, Oklahoma police helicopter was sentenced on July 10 2017 to one year of probation, despite sentencing guidelines recommending an 18-24 month prison sentence.

On December 29 2016, Jay Scott Howell aimed the laser 11 times at the helicopter. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on February 7 2017 on one count of aiming the laser. The maximum penalty is up to five years in federal prison and/or up to a $250,000 fine.

Howell pleaded guilty on April 10 2017 to the charge.

While U.S. sentencing guidelines recommended an 18-24 month prison term, the judge sentenced Howell to one year of probation. The judge cited Howell’s age (53), limited criminal history and remorse for his actions. The prosecuting U.S. attorney did not object to the sentence, telling the judge “He’s the perfect candidate. I don’t anticipate ever seeing Mr. Howell again.”

If probation is revoked, Howell could serve up to the maximum sentence of five years.

From the Tulsa World

Germany: UPDATED - Demonstrations at G20 summit target police helicopter

On July 6 2017, two police helicopter pilots were blinded by lasers aimed from the ground, during violent “Welcome to Hell” demonstrations protesting the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Media reports did not indicate how badly the pilots’ vision was affected.

Seventy-four other police officers were injured; one was hospitalized with an eye injury after a firework exploded in his face.

From the Mirror and Reuters

UPDATED JULY 9 2017 - After intensive investigations, German police arrested a 27-year-old Hamburg man “on suspicion of attempted murder”. The unnamed man blinded the two pilots “so badly while they were up in the air that they had to stop working because they couldn’t see.”

From FoxBusiness

US: Oklahoma City teenager arrested for aiming laser at police helicopter

A 19-year-old Oklahoma City teen was arrested June 19 2017 for aiming a green laser beam multiple times at an Oklahoma City Police Department helicopter.

The aircraft was on patrol when it was illuminated around 10:30 pm. The beam was traced to a house. Ground officers arrested Darren Williams.

Darren Williams laser Oklahoma City
Darren Williams


The teen’s father said Darren was unaware that it was illegal to aim a laser at aircraft. “It was an honest mistake. He is really remorseful about it.”

He was charged on both state and federal counts. On the federal charge, he could face up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.

From News9, Fox25 and KOCO News 5

US and Iran: UPDATED - Iranian naval ship shines laser on US helicopter says U.S.; Iran denies

An Iranian naval vessel aimed a “targeting laser” at a U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E helicopter on June 13 2017. This set off the helicopter’s automatic defense system, which fired flare signals.

A group of three U.S. ships — a destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, and a dry cargo ship — were transiting international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, according to a U.S. military statement. The Iranian naval vessel, said by one source to be a missile ship, came within 800 yards of the assault ship and scanned two of the U.S. ships with a spotlight.

The helicopter was flying alongside the deployment when the Iranian targeting laser was aimed at it, setting off the flares.

There was no report of injury to the helicopter pilots. A spokesperson for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet said “Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles.”

CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter
Marine Corps Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion


From Newsweek and CNN

UPDATED JULY 16 2017 - Iran claimed it did not point a laser at the helicopter. The Tasnim News Agency said “A top commander of Iran’s Navy denied reports that the country’s naval forces had pointed a laser at an airborne US Marine Corps helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz back in June. Commander of Iran's First Naval Zone Admiral Hossein Azad categorically denied reports of such incident.”

The report had no additional details, such as what could have set off the helicopter’s flares as claimed by the initial U.S. report.

From the
Tasnim News Agency and the Tehran Times

Germany: Eight months for 49-year-old man who aimed at aircraft and police helicopter

A 49-year-old German man was sentenced May 31 2017 to eight months in prison for aiming a laser at a police helicopter.

In August 2016, several aircraft flying in or out of Berlin Schönefeld Airport reported glare from a laser beam A police helicopter was sent to investigate, and was also hit by laser light.

The unnamed perpetrator later said in court he had not been aiming at anything specific in the night sky, and that he did not see the helicopter.

He was sentenced in Zossen (Brandenburg) District Court; Zossen is about 20 miles south of Berlin.

From Spiegel Online in original German and in Google-translated English. Thanks to Alex Hennig for bringing this to our attention.

US: Community service and fine for Calif. man who aimed laser at police helicopter

A 28-year-old man from Fontana, California was sentenced on May 30 2017 for aiming a laser at an Ontario, California police helicopter.

The incident happened February 21 2015. Asarel Felix Lombera used a $20 green laser pointer to track a police helicopter for about 15 seconds. The light entered the cockpit and momentarily dazed a crew member.

In February 2017 Lombera pleaded guilty. In his plea agreement, he said he was aware that what he did was dangerous and distracting. At sentencing in May, Lombera received a probationary sentence of community service and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

From The Daily Bulletin

Scotland: UPDATED - Man aims laser at police helicopter, thinking it is spying on him

On May 17 2017, a 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer multiple times at a police helicopter. The helicopter was searching for a missing woman on September 5 2016.

Gary Cameron believed the police were spying on him when he repeatedly shone the Class 2 (less than one milliwatt) at the helicopter — even as ground officers were interviewing him, prior to arrest.

According to his defense lawyer, Cameron had psychological problems for which he was seeking treatment. He pleaded guilty to culpable and reckless conduct.

Gary Cameron laser Clydebank
Gary Cameron


From the Scottish Sun

UPDATED December 22 2017 - Cameron was sentenced September 7 2017 to hours of unpaid work and to supervision. As of December 21 2017, Cameron had not yet been provided with information about the unpaid work order, or the start date. A court review hearing was set for March 23 2018. From the Clydebank Post.

US: Three years in 2017 for Kansas City man who aimed laser at police helicopter in 2013

Jordan Clarence Rogers, 26, was sentenced on January 17 2017 to three years in federal prison without parole.

On October 28 2013, Rogers aimed a laser three times at a Kansas City (Missouri) Police Department helicopter. The pilot had “eye strain” for several hours after the incident.

Rogers was indicted on the laser charge on August 26 2014. He pleaded guilty on September 8 2016 to one felony count.

At sentencing, federal prosecutors said that Rogers had an extensive history of criminal activity including drug and property crimes, which should be a factor in a longer 4-year sentence.

Rogers’ attorney said the sentence should be shorter. While Rogers knew it was illegal to aim a laser at an aircraft, “he had no knowledge of the highly scientific manner in which a laser endangers an airplane.”

In a sentencing memorandum, he attorney wrote “The average person would believe that a laser beam hitting an aircraft would cause a small spot to appear on the aircraft or in the cockpit, much like shining a laser beam at a wall. It is not common knowledge that the laser actually increases with size as it extends, and that the glass of the cockpit can expand the light further, causing it to light up the entire cockpit.”

From KY3.com, the Kansas City Star, and an article by Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica with additional links to legal materials.

US: Maryland man hits police helicopter eight times; crew goes to hospital

Connor Grant Brown, 30, was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer about eight times at a Maryland State Police helicopter on January 16 2017. The crew abandoned their mission (looking for a man running barefoot in cold temperatures), and landed. Two of the four persons on board — the pilot and the crew chief — went to Frederick Memorial Hospital for treatment. They were later released but will have to return for follow-up testing. The two men went back to work the following day.

Connor Grant Brown laser Jan 2017
Connor Grant Brown


Brown faces state charges of reckless endangerment, obstructing and hindering, and shining a laser pointer at an aircraft.

According to a trooper who was in the helicopter, the laser had a power of 100 milliwatts. The U.S. limit for laser pointers is 5 milliwatts. [The laser itself is legal, but it is illegal to sell lasers over 5 milliwatts as a “pointer” or for pointing purposes. And of course it is illegal to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft in the U.S.]

The trooper also said “he experienced spots on his vision after the laser hit the helicopter, as if he had just looked at the sun. While most sun spots disappear in a few blinks, the spots from the laser did not. He also experienced minor pain that he described to be similar to windburn.”

The trooper said the helicopter pilot described his vision as “sandy.”

A statement of probable cause described Brown’s explanation to troopers regarding why he aimed the laser at the helicopter.

At about 1 am Brown woke up due to a “buzzing sound.” The unknown aircraft flew over his house “every minute, at some points shaking the windows.” Brown aimed his $20 internet-purchased laser “to signal the operator to stop flying so close to the house.”

After police showed up at his house, “my heart sank in my chest.” He apologized and said he did not mean to cause any harm from his “horrible, horrible mistake… From start to finish, what I did was wrong.”

From CBS Baltimore, Carroll County Times initial story, Carroll County Times follow-up story, and Carroll County Times editorial “Use common sense with laser pointers.” Thanks to Capt. Dan Hewett and Greg Makhov for bringing this to our attention.