PEOPLE! People. We have to talk.
Over the weekend, there was an incident that caused a flight out of London to turn around because the pilot had experienced a laser beam in the eye from the ground somewhere. Here’s the recording from the cockpit with the control tower with the crosstalk about the First Officer being hit in the eye by a laser:
Do you work with lasers?
Do you play with lasers?
Do you have a pen laser?
Do you like it?
Here’s a list of your local laser laws and regulations. It might be time to bone up.
Pretty soon, if the bullshit keeps up with the pilots and shining lasers in their eyes — we, as in you and me here in the United States (and potentially worldwide because the rest of the world doesn’t play the crap like we do) will no longer be able to have these pen lasers. The laser industry will suffer; laser consumerism will suffer, and creativity from lasers and playing with lasers in the darkness and all of the fun that entails will be a thing of the past, and you will knock the progression of lasers as a tool of learning and fun right out of whack. See what’s happening to consumer drone use right now?? I foresee some really non laser-positive things happening with respect to laser legislation in our very near future if this keeps up.
What happens when you do something like this is that you instantly create a panic — and when people panic, news stories like this come out:
It’s a shame, really. It’s so much fun to shine lasers into the night sky, given the proper permitting and all of that. In some places they show right up at your house when you shine your laser up in the sky, it’s uncanny how well law enforcement has gotten with respect to laser source tracking using socio-economic data in tandem with location tracking to find out who might have had the errant laser. But there is no time and no laughter coming from the US Government on lasers and planes, even when having one of those Star Shower things…
The Star Shower is essentially eye-safe, and does not cause direct interference (glare) with pilots’ vision after about 411 feet. However, a single beamlet can be a distraction to pilots at least 3/4 of a mile away, and possibly further away due to the large number of laser dots aimed into the sky causing a flashing effect.
For this reason, a Star Shower needs to be aimed so that beams don’t go into airspace. You do not want an officer knocking on your door because a pilot saw and reported your home laser projector. While it is unlikely you would be arrested for an unknowing aircraft illumination, federal penalties for laser pointer misuse range up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Putting the projector closer to a house will keep more of the beams on the structure. Similarly, don’t aim it up into a tree unless the tree is very dense, such as an evergreen.
It should also be noted that there are reports such as this and this of Star Showers being stolen from yards. If you put your projector on a roof or up in a tree, aiming downwards, this both helps aviation (no beams going up into the air) and makes it harder to steal the projector. Finally, if you are in a heavy air traffic area, you might want to consider restricting it to indoor use only.
The FBI and the US government has no humor and no tolerance for this behavior, it literally is a felony to shine a laser at a plane because, if you’re caught, you’re more than likely going to be charged with a felony — the government considers this interfering with the operation of an aircraft, which comes with a door prize of a 20 year prison maximum and a $250,000 fine. Again, there is no humor or time for this, and every reported case is another instance some lawmaker is going to use to really put a bind on lasers for the normal nerd.
What is going to happen now I suspect, since the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) is good and angry about its most recent experience this last weekend with a first officer being hit in the eye with a “military grade laser” on a flight form Heathrow, is that everyone is going to panic, and people across the world are rushing to judgement because any time we can’t fix something or perhaps don’t understand something, we legislate the piss out of it so that it becomes harmless to everyone. If the plane laser strikes keep happening and whomever out there doing this keeps it up, not only will everything laser become more expensive, but so will the cost of legally being able to own it, especially with some of the higher laser classes. Thanks for nothing, y’all.
Laser strikes doubled from 2014 to 2015. DOUBLED, both per day and per the whole year . Why? High-power laser pens are everywhere, and are cheaper than dirt. Also, people who are stupid are going to do stupid things:
So, with that being said, seriously: stop doing this!
A Laser Enthusiast and General Nerd of Light
Extra nerdery for your benefit on this topic: