The FBI issued a warning regarding the dangers of pointing laser at an airplane, as such pranks can have serious consequences.

While directing laser with its tiny point at an airplane may not seem like much, considering the distance between the ground and the airplane soaring the skies, it's actually quite dangerous and distracting for pilots.

To explain the magnitude of this situation, the FBI published a comprehensive warning, complete with a video that shows just how dangerous it can be for pilots when people point lasers at aircraft. The video was produced for the U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The ordinary laser, frequently used as a simple office tool, can indeed be very harmful for pilots. Up there, it's no longer a tiny pinpoint of light. As it travels to 1,000 feet in the sky, the laser pinpoint in fact creates a floodlight and the light disperses even more as it hits the plexiglass of an aircraft, flooding the cockpit [see image above].

Doug Reinholz, an officer of St. Louis Metropolitan Police, further explains how distracting and blinding it was when someone pointed a laser at the aircraft when he was on night patrol in a helicopter. Reinholz compares that laser light hitting the helicopter to the flash of a camera on a pitch black night.

"It's a temporary blinding to the pilot and also to the tactical flight officer, whoever we are with," he pointed out.

The man who pointed the laser was Justin Stouder, and police officers found him in minutes. Stouder said he was in his yard, pointing the laser at a tower in the distance, when he saw the helicopter and decided to see how far his laser would go, curious whether the laser would be able to travel so far as to reach the helicopter. The man had no idea it would blind the people inside the aircraft. It did, and Stouder learned the hard way that pointing lasers at aircraft is not as innocent as it may seem, as he was placed under arrest.

The FBI now encourages people to turn in individuals who point lasers at aircraft, and it's offering a hefty $10,000 reward. "Lasing" is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison, yet few people are aware of the issue. Green lasers are the most dangerous ones, as their beam is much stronger than the red variety.

Nevertheless, it seems that this practice of pointing lasers at aircraft is quite common. On July 15, for instance, as many as 34 commercial flights reported flying over New Jersey and having lasers pointed at them from the ground. This occurrence on Wednesday night is just the latest in a series of such dangerous cases, increasingly endangering the safety of pilots and aircraft.

If you never thought of this issue so far, check out the video below to get a better grasp of the concept and take it take this into account the next time you're playing with a laser and think it would be interesting to point it at an aircraft.

 

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