PHOENIX — As a Phoenix Police Department helicopter patrolled above north Phoenix the evening of Jan. 21, a green laser aimed from the grounds of a resort hotel illuminated the cockpit with blinding light.
In this case, neither the pilot nor the observer was harmed, and the helicopter helped hotel security apprehend a 36-year-old man who was charged, but officials said it was yet another case of lasers pointed at aircraft endangering pilots’ eyesight and even their lives.
“It’s amazing that people don’t understand that these lasers can blind the pilot and that they’re extremely harmful,” said James Holmes, a police spokesman. “Some think this is a joke or that this is funny and they don’t realize this can cause a major disaster.”
Now a state lawmaker from Tucson is seeking a law specifically banning the practice.
“This may seem like an inconsequential thing from the ground, but it’s a very real public safety issue,” said Rep. Ethan Orr, a Republican.
Orr authored HB 2164, which would build on a state law that makes it illegal to aim a laser pointer at a law officer and carries a misdemeanor. An offense involving an occupied aircraft would be a felony that becomes more severe if a pilot is injured or left unable to operate the aircraft safely.
Laser pointers project a small dot close up, but when viewed at longer distances the beam can be inches across. Advances in laser technology have made pointers more powerful and potentially harmful in recent years, according to Patrick Murphy, editor of the website laserpointersafety.com.
“Lasers have come down in price and gone up in power,” he said. “Higher-power lasers … should be restricted, but this also comes down to there not being one single solution.”
Murphy said warning labels on lasers, which alert users of danger to their eyes, should also note secondary dangers, including the danger to aircraft pilots. Meanwhile, he said, training pilots to calmly react when a laser strike occurs, as well as prosecution should be a priority.
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development