Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Transportation Your Rights Online

Laser Strikes On Aircraft Becoming Epidemic 687

Posted by timothy
from the good-place-to-put-advertising dept.
First time accepted submitter AlphaWolf_HK writes "Ars Technica has a story about a 52 year old man who was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail for shining a high powered green laser at a helicopter along with an interesting video showing how he was tracked down. The FBI says that laser strikes are becoming epidemic, saying that they expect to see reports of 3,700 of them this year."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Laser Strikes On Aircraft Becoming Epidemic

Comments Filter:
  • Sysiphus (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:10PM (#41571873)

    Make the bastard spend his years in line for the TSA.

  • Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:15PM (#41571935)

    "sentenced to three years in jail for shining a high powered green laser at a helicopter "

    Good. And since it's a federal crime, he gets to serve 85 percent of that.

    I almost had someone arrested for shining a laser at my friggin' eyes across a bar. But since I knew the person and knew he wasn't "all there" I just confronted him.

    But if it was anyone else, I would have pressed charges. Yes, it's assault.

    There needs to be *at a minimum* public education on this issue, and if nobody is willing to do that, then handheld lasers need to be outright banned for unlicensed individuals. This opinion is unpopular for slashdot, but shit really has gotten out of hand.

    --
    BMO

    • by swalve (1980968)
      Not a ban, but education absolutely. Perhaps licensing. For sellers too. I don't like the idea of a technological future where only our betters (the cops) can get cool technology. It has already happened with some guns, it's going to happen with the lasers, it's going to happen with remote control helicopters. The only solution is to educate the public.
      • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bmo (77928) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:41PM (#41572185)

        > I don't like the idea of a technological future where only our betters (the cops) can get cool technology.

        I said "a ban for unlicensed individuals" just like you can't buy a kilowatt radio transmitter without a license from any reputable radio shop (there are plenty of assholes who will sell linears to CB owners, though, and they should be shut down).

        You need to prove you're not an idiot before you can use technology that can do damage to people at a distance. And yes, people who can prove that they are not idiots *are* better than idiots, like this guy in the video.

        Perhaps a graduated licensing scheme should be in order. Beyond a certain power, only businesses, scientists, and engineers should be allowed to have them after demonstrating a legitimate need.

        --
        BMO

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)

      There needs to be *at a minimum* public education on this issue, and if nobody is willing to do that, then handheld lasers need to be outright banned for unlicensed individuals. This opinion is unpopular for slashdot, but shit really has gotten out of hand.

      No, i'm not going to willingly give up my rights because someone else is a moron.

      And i dont even want one... and id still fight against that.

    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Informative)

      by bloodhawk (813939) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:33PM (#41572097)
      We used to have the same problem in Australia. They took the outright ban approach here, it has massively reduced the incidents, not sure if I am in favour of that approach or not, but can't deny it has worked.
      • Higher powered lasers have been banned in Australia since way before the media reported incidents of shining lasers on aircraft appeared... any handheld self powered laser >1mW is prohibited.
        I think that while the bans reduced availability of lasers high powered lasers to the general public the novelty factor for those that do have them makes many of those people more reckless.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:18PM (#41571949)
    NAS Oceana (Virginia), for instance. Very close to the beach, final approach right over the beach and hotels. Mix in some beer fueled idiots on a 5th floor hotel balcony...

    They've had many instances [wvec.com] over the last few years.
  • What was /he/ flying?? An Apache?

    Green lasers are used, outside the lab, for day/night use in ballistic targeting systems. They're also powerful enough in some cases to cook the retina even at ranges of several miles.

    anecdotal source: I use a Magfire green designator on an AGS PCR1 for ratting - the rats aren't bothered by the laser, they run a mile when they're hit with a red. They drop when they're hit with a lump of tinshot doing 700 feet per second.

  • the sad stew which is destroying "The Grand Experiment", since it's the perfect justification for control freaks to pass more and more laws restricting freedom.

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:25PM (#41572031)

    For a country in constant fear of terrorists hijacking their planes you take it pretty lightly when someone actually tries to make airplanes fall. Three is a very light sentence, they should make an example of those that get caught.

  • by sobolwolf (1084585) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:30PM (#41572077) Journal
    My young Stepson got one of these (powerful green laser) and I was pretty much blown away at the power of it... I did see when he was unpacking it lots of warnings so I spent some time with him when he first tested it out. So we get outside at night and what is the first thing he tries to do, yep point it a plane flying overhead... so cue the huge boring lecture from me about the danger of these things and how if he gets caught pointing his laser at planes, or cars or people's eyes he will be sent to a boys home... well I think he got the point. The main thing is that kids need to understand the danger of these things and there is a responsibility for parents to keep up with the times and actually understand that "new toy"...
    • by jamesh (87723) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:42PM (#41572197)

      My young Stepson got one of these (powerful green laser) and I was pretty much blown away at the power of it... I did see when he was unpacking it lots of warnings so I spent some time with him when he first tested it out. So we get outside at night and what is the first thing he tries to do, yep point it a plane flying overhead... so cue the huge boring lecture from me about the danger of these things and how if he gets caught pointing his laser at planes, or cars or people's eyes he will be sent to a boys home... well I think he got the point. The main thing is that kids need to understand the danger of these things and there is a responsibility for parents to keep up with the times and actually understand that "new toy"...

      Aren't there laws against letting kids play with these things? You say "powerful" but don't specify the power, but i'm guessing it's high powered enough that it could blind you. And by young i assume you mean under 12 (or you would have said teenage). Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture? Kids that age are very likely to go from "hey wouldn't it be funny if..." to actually doing it without thinking it through, regardless of the number of "boring lectures" they've been submitted to. Especially when he's angling to impress a few mates. He doesn't need parental guidance, he needs parental supervision every time the thing comes out of its box. I'd be treating it with similar caution as a gun.

  • Epidemic? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:32PM (#41572085)

    There are approximately 76000 aircraft departures in the US every day. 76000*365= 27,740,000. 3,700/27,740,000= .00013. So 0.013% of flights have reported a laser strike and no aircraft have been downed. It would seem that the FAA need to look at the definition of epidemic.

  • Seems a little odd that a helicoptor escort can be that easily distracted/disabled. If the guy hasn't kept pointing it at them, they wouldn't have been able to find him either.
  • by MindPrison (864299) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @06:51PM (#41572273) Journal

    I remember the time when I bought a HeNe Gas laser back in the 80's to make a spectacular laser show with, for the neighbors. I had no intentions on shining lights on airplanes or innocent people at all.

    And I use lasers all the time in my electronics lab for experimentation.

    Unfortunately, lasers have become so cheap, and super powerful laser-pointers (which has no real world use whatsoever) has become available to the street-kids, so we'll undoubtedly see these lasers become illegal for anyone to possess and own. Including innocent experimenters at home, thanks to the idiots in the streets who just find it fun to point 200mw lasers at anyone.

    5mw is enough for anyone who wants to "play" with a laser pointer, it'll reach several hundred meters, enough to bedazzle the laymen out in the streets, and makes no difference from any 200mw+ laser whatsoever visibly, and furthermore...it won't blind anyone, not destroy pilots sights or policemen etc.

    In fact...not even a 200mw laser will blind ANY pilot, as it is a physical impossibility to hold a 200mw laser beam of any significant distance steady by a human hand, it will shake - it will sway, it will swing...and the atmosphere will pollute and defocus the beam itself so it won't harm anyone.

    Sad...just sad.

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @07:06PM (#41572419) Homepage
    Federal investigators have released this video [youtube.com] of a French citizen wanted in connection with an array of high-power green lasers aimed skyward.

    Rumours that the "attack" was actually part of a concert were dismissed by US Federal Music Expert, Sam Confederate IV, who said "I know both types of music, and that there noise in the video ain't country *or* western."

    However, attempts at having the suspect- known only as "Jimmy Shelljar"- deported from France to the United States have run into problems. A legal document, addressed to "Our bestest friend, Nicolas "L'Americaine" Sarkozy, The French White House, Paris, France" was returned marked "no longer at this address". In addition, scribbled underneath was a cartoon of a "cheese-eating surrender monkey" making an obscene gesture and the message, "Fuck you, arrogant Yankee scum! Signed President François "La Socialiste" Hollande".

    Investigators believe that the suspect is motivated by frustration at not having released a worthwhile album in over ten years. More news as we get it.
  • by localman (111171) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @08:38PM (#41573167) Homepage

    Is this the next phase of the stupid laser-pointer-in-the-movie-theater gag that was "becoming epidemic" in the late 90's? Why do some people become idiots when they get a laser in their hands?

    I was always impressed how that died off without any serious crackdown. People just squawked about it until it was common social knowledge that nobody though you were cool and everyone thought you were a dick.

    Hopefully this dies off too.

  • The bar is lowered (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday October 06, 2012 @09:31PM (#41573519) Homepage Journal

    You gotta really be a douchebag to point a laser at an aircraft. It's like dropping bricks off a highway overpass.

    What the fuck is wrong with people? It's not like these are delinquent kids doing this laser thing. We're talking full-grown people.

    It's a good thing my experience with the people in my life is nothing like the picture of humanity I see reflected by the media every day. Honey BooBoo Chile and The Apprentice and all that. If I really believed people were as messed up as the commercial media portrays, I might get depressed.

  • by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @12:37AM (#41574467) Homepage Journal

    I happen to live in an area where pilots regularly violate laws on altitude. IIRC, the law is 1000 feet above ground level in populated areas. My area is definitely *residential* as I am surround with at least 1000 other houses, though they are not close together as in a typical suburb, but clearly it falls under the regulations.

    I've been through this before: 1000 people are going to respond and say that I am wrong: it cannot be that these pilots choose to violate the law, but you have never been in a position to try and complain about these things, and I can assure you that unless you can afford a lawyer and a private investigator, there is nothing you can do about the pilots how regularly intrude on your space. I have called the FAA and every law enforcement body that I fall under and all I ever get, at best, is sent to someone's voicemail.

    Nobody cares at all about the slim minority of people who are regularly intruded upon by these assholes. The helicopters fly sometimes within 100 feet my house, barely skimming the treetops, and from inside the house everything is shaking. These are the biggest, richest assholes of them all - they are flying to their second home or third or 50th home and could give a shit about being inconvenience to spend the time to ascend and then descend. The next ones are the pilots is small planes. These guys don't vibrate the house, but they are VERY loud and the pitch of the engine and extremely annoying.

    In some areas it is even worse with the problem of helicopters, and what I wonder is if these residents who are lasering these pilots do it out of anger for not being able to do anything else about the violations. I do empathize with their position, but violence is not the solution for me. I'd be willing to bet that as more people learn about this cheap method of encouraging pilots to fly elsewhere, the more of the asshole pilots will get lasered. I'm saying it's right, but frankly, they should be flying at higher altitudes.

  • facts? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swell (195815) <`jabberwock' `at' `poetic.com'> on Sunday October 07, 2012 @12:49AM (#41574517)

    Wow. Dramatic video of catching a perpetrator. And interesting representation of what a laser hit looks like in a helicopter. It's so easy to become captivated by a video even if it has no relevance.

    How many tragedies have resulted from these thousands of incidents?

    If I can just learn if there were 5 or 50 or 500 fatalities resulting from laser strikes, then I will be better able to weigh the significance of the problem. I'm pretty sure that is what elected officials will be asking.

    Each year a certain number of people die from drowning in their bathtub. A few die from shark attacks. Some, including celebrities, die from erotic asphyxiation (hah! I speled that rite on the frist tri!). Legislators have to decide where is the most effective place to put their limited funds and protect people from a dangerous world.

  • by cshay (79326) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:39AM (#41576269)

    Am I the only one who noticed that video is timestamped April 2010 while the arrest this story is talking about happened in 2007? Sheesh.

When Dexter's on the Internet, can Hell be far behind?"

Working...