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.
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.