A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Rincon, Georgia, US
Hendricks aimed a green laser at commercial aircraft landing at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia, between November 27 2019 and January 14 2020. One of the pilots helped pinpoint the origin of the laser strikes.
Hendricks was indicted on November 10 2020. He pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. He was sentenced August 24 2021 to 18 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term.
For more information, see this LaserPointerSafety.com story
Woodcroft, South Australia
A South Australia Police helicopter checking on COVID compliance during a three-day lockdown was hit seven times by a blue laser on November 20, 2020. There was no injury to the crew but one officer was dazzled temporarily by the beam.
Two frames from the South Australia Police helicopter. In the first frame the laser beam is aimed to the left of the camera. In the second frame the beam is aimed directly at the camera lens. The human eye would have a similar effect, first seeing the beam then being dazzled and flashblinded by the bright direct light.
The perpetrator was found to be Mark Andrew Golka, 49, who lived in the Adelaide suburb of Woodcroft. He was said to have been drinking alcohol and taking prescription pain medication when he aimed the laser. At sentencing, the judge told Golka "…that is no excuse to having committed these offences."
Golka was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended. He signed a two-year good behavior bond, will be supervised for 18 months, and will perform 80 hours of community service.
After the sentencing, his lawyer said Golka was sorry for what he had done.
From ABC News. The page includes a video of the laser illumination, from which the two frames above were taken.
Missoula, Montana, US
On March 3 2020, a SkyWest flight on decent to the Great Falls, Montana airport was illuminated by a bright green laser that lit up the cockpit.
Sheriff's deputies located a Jeep in which Loven was a passenger. A laser pointer was in a cup holder.
Loven admitted aiming the laser at an aircraft. He said he wanted to "test out the distance of the laser". He also said he did not know it was illegal to aim a laser at an aircraft.
On October 28, 2020, he pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
On February 25 2021, Loven was sentenced to three years probation. U.S. federal prosecutors had requested a sentence of 15 to 21 months in prison. Contrary to some news reports, the only punishment was probation.
More on the incident here.
Portland, Oregon, US
In 2016, Bocharnikov, who is a locksmith, was hired to unlock a stolen car. Police told him he could keep a green laser pointer found inside the car.
In July 2017, Bochnarnikov used the laser pointer to aim at trees and then, to aim four times at a Cessna 172 used by the Portland Police Bureau which was coming in for a landing. The pilot and flight officer directed ground officers to Bocharnikov's location.
Bocharnikov told the officers he did not think the laser could reach the aircraft, and he did not see the laser on the aircraft. He told investigating FBI agents that he was sorry and that "it was a stupid thing to do."
In April 2019 he pleaded guilty to one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. He was sentenced July 16 2019 to three years of probation.
From KOIN.com and KXL.com
Rockford, Illinois, US
Brenton Wells pleaded guilty on August 20, 2019 to knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft. He aimed at the aircraft "for a period of time" while standing in the backyard of a residence.
He was sentenced on December 20, 2019 to 15 months in federal prison.
From the Chicago Morning Star
Blackdown Close, East Finchley, London, UK
On March 10 2017, Chung Ching Wan was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, given a six month curfew under electronic tag, and ordered to pay prosecution costs and £115 victim surcharge. In addition, the laser pen he used plus three other “powerful” laser pens were ordered destroyed.
His punishment came after a January 12 2017 incident where a National Police Air Service helicopter was illuminated by green laser light several times. A crew member momentarily lost vision; the pilot changed the helicopter’s direction to avoid the beam. Ground officers were directed to a location where Chung Ching Wan was arrested. He told officers he was an accountant making £45,000 (USD $60,000) per year and said “It’s really silly what I have done.”
On January 31 2017 he pleaded guilty to recklessly and negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or person in an aircraft.
From the Mirror and Police Oracle
Zossen, Brandenburg, Germany
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.
McClure was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.
Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. Her brother, who was not charged, sold them in a stall during a school fair in December 2015. The headmaster asked her brother to stop selling the laser, but he continued.
Jonathan Marshall, 7, purchased one of the lasers. It was later found to have an output of 127 milliwatts.
His mother said Jonathan was playing with it at home when the beam went into his eye for “a fraction of a second.” He has a retinal burn which interferes with his vision.
McClure pleaded guilty to nine product safety and consumer protection violations, including selling an unsafe product and failing to disclose the power of the laser.
The case appears to be the first where a person has been prosecuted for an illegal laser sale that led to an injury.
From the Sunday Times (subscription required to read the entire article) and the JC.com
New Parks, Leicester, UK
On March 9 2016, the two men aimed the green beam of a laser pen at a police helicopter, forcing it to abort its mission to find a missing person. The helicopter pilot directed ground officers to a park where they found Jayes and Plaskiewicz. Each said the other was using the laser.
They pleaded guilty to charges of recklessly or negligently endangering the safety of an aircraft and those traveling within it.
On July 22 2016, Jayes was sentenced to eight months in jail, and Plaskiewicz was sentenced to six months. (Jayes previously had 71 convictions on his criminal record and was in breach of a community order at the time of his arrest.)
Portland, Oregon, US
Bukucs was sentenced to 6 months in federal prison on March 16 2015 for two felony counts of aiming a laser pointer at commercial jetliners as they approached Portland International Airport in October 2013.
On July 15, 2014, Bukucs pleaded guilty to aiming his green laser at United Airlines Flight 1406 and Jet Blue Flight 1205 as they flew over his apartment in Northeast Portland on October 13, 2013. His arrest occurred after intense air and ground surveillance by FBI agents and police officers. Investigators reported over 100 laser strikes from the vicinity of defendant’s apartment in 2013, the government stated to the court.
After his prison term, Bukucs must also serve three years of supervised release. From an FBI news release.
Hubbard, Ohio, US
Vecchiarelli was sentenced on October 2 2014 to probation for five years, has to do 200 hours of community service, must write an apology to his victims, has to pay a $1,000 fine, has an 11 pm curfew, and must stay out of liquor establishments. If he violates his probation, he could go to prison for eight years.
Vecchiarelli was arrested for aiming a laser at a news helicopter that was filming an October 11 2013 football game at Hubbard (Ohio) High School. The cameraman told police the laser light entered his eyes. He was able to direct police to the laser location, about 1 mile southeast of the stadium.
Mandurah, Western Australia
Moore was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,093) on September 19 2014, for continually aiming a green laser beam at a police helicopter.
On August 25 2014, he was walking his dog and playing with the laser pointer when he decided to aim it at a helicopter overhead. His lawyer said Moore “didn’t think it would hit or reach the aircraft.” The pilot took evasive action and was “distressed” throughout the incident. When arrested, Moore told police his actions were “stupid” and he was an “idiot.”
He could have been jailed for up to three years, and fined up to $36,000. The sentencing judge said Moore was lucky to not be jailed, given that “the risk of damage was huge.”
Bloxwich, West Midlands, UK
Carl Keates, 23
Walsall, West Midlands, UK
On September 2 2014, Bruno was sentenced to 16 weeks in jail, and Keates was sentenced to 12 weeks, for aiming at a West Midlands police helicopter for about 25 minutes in a “repeated and prolonged attack”. Both men pleaded guilty to recklessly endangering the safety of an aircraft.
Auckland, New Zealand
On May 30 2014, Larsen was sentenced to alcohol treatment, 100 hours of community service, and 12 months probation after being convicted of endangering transport. On December 1 2013, the pilot of the Eagle police helicopter was momentarily blinded and, a day later, had a headache after being exposed to blue light from Larsen’s laser. At sentencing, the judge called Larsen’s actions a “drunken escapade.” Larsen said he regretted his actions: “We all make mistakes, and this was mine to make.”
Woodvale, Western Australia, Australia
On September 4 2013, Manning was fined AUS $10,000 (USD $9,140) for causing fear with a laser or light. On August 3 2013, a police helicopter was conducting a search in the Perth suburb of Woodvale when it was hit a number of times by a bright green laser light. The pilot had “immediate distress” and took evasive action. Ground officers arrested Manning at his home in Woodvale. He was later found guilty in Joondalup magistrates court.
Orland, California, US
On October 21 2009, Nighswander aimed a green laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter at least four times. He was sentenced September 28 2010 for using a laser to interfere with an aircraft.
Lynden, Washington, US
On September 22 2010, Groen aimed a spotlight (not a laser) at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter, at a time when local residents had been complaining about border agents' actions. On April 28 2011, a jury found Groen not guilty of interfering with the authorized operation of an aircraft. They found him guilty of incapacitation of an individual during authorized operation of an aircraft.
Groen was sentenced on August 4 2011 to two months in prison, 90 days of home detention, 120 hours of community service, three years of community supervision and a $5,000 fine.
Fostoria, Ohio, US
On July 20 2010, Manz aimed 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. He pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents. Manz could have received up to 30 months in prison.
Also involved were David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34. They were placed on one-year diversion on June 22 2011. The criminal charges against them will be erased if they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year.
Orlando, Florida, US
On April 13 2010, Anderson was arrested for aiming a green laser at an Orange County (FL) sheriff's helicopter. He pleaded guilty in December 2010, and was sentenced in July 2011 on a federal charge of interfering with the operation of an aircraft.
His case was especially interesting since it paralleled the case of Jason Dennis McGuire who was arrested March 2010 in Orlando for firing a handgun at an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter. McGuire was sentenced in April 2011 to 12.5 years in prison.
Phoenix, Arizona, US
On November 9 2011, Cerise aimed a green laser at two commercial aircraft. One was forced to veer off of a final approach, to avoid the laser light. A police helicopter sent to investigate was also lased. Ground units found a laser hidden in Cerise's couch cushions. Cerise eventually admitted aiming at the aircraft to see how far it could go. Authorities said three pilots were temporarily blinded during the incidents.
On August 8 2012, Cerise was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years supervised probation.