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US: Texas man arrested after aiming at FBI pilot

On June 2 2011, a Southwest Airlines pilot landing at Dallas’s Love Field reported a laser being aimed at the jet. Air traffic controllers warned other pilots. An FBI agent already airborne responded and began searching for the source. The man on the ground aimed his laser pointer at the FBI pilot, who then identified the location and notified ground units.

A 45-year-old Garland man, Sammy Ladymon, was arrested and charged with “illumination of aircraft with intense light”, a Texas state misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 1 year.

Sammy Ladymon

Ladymon’s house (A) is about 14 miles in a straight line from Love Field (B)

The arrest came one day after the Federal Aviation Administration announced it would impose a civil penalty of up to $11,000 on persons lasing an aircraft. There was no immediate word as to whether Ladymon would face the FAA fine or other federal charges as well.

A police spokesperson who is also a pilot commented "Why would somebody do something like that? It's dangerous, it's against the law, it's just not good common sense to do something like that."

From NBCDFW. Thanks to Tim Walsh (ILDA’s president), Steve Jander of Showlasers, and Steve Roberts for bringing this to our attention.

UPDATE, June 8 2011: In a jailhouse interview, Ladymon admitted he aimed a $40 green laser pointer at the FBI aircraft because he was “tired of circling helicopters”. He said he was not sure if he also illuminated a Southwest Airlines flight: “That could have happened. It didn’t get hit for very long, that’s for sure.” Ladymon does not believe he did anything wrong in the June incident or in earlier illuminations. He may have been responsible for some of the 85 laser incidents in north Texas from January 2010 through May 2011. He said “I might have spent some time pointing at [annoying aircraft]. I don’t want to incriminate myself here.” The interview was conducted by Scott Gordon of NBCDFW.

UPDATE #2, October 31 2011: Ladymon was charged on October 21 2011 with one count of interfering with an aircraft with reckless disregard for the safety of human liee, a federal offense with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A similar state charge was dropped. Trial was set for December 16 2011. From ABC13, MyFoxDFW and NBCDFW.