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Pilot Distracted By Laser Pointer

Pilot Distracted By Laser Pointer

By Rebekah Rae. CREATED Jun 21, 2013

Omaha, NE - An eleven year old is accused of pointing a laser at a plane leaving Eppley airfield.  An air traffic controller at Eppley says it happened near the Millard area.

Laser pointers are especially dangerous for pilots attempting to safely fly a plane.  The FAA says the boy shined a laser pointer at a cargo jet at 7000 feet above ground, around 12:30 Friday morning.
 
One pilot tells Action 3 News, when flying a plane, visual illusions cause many distractions.  If someone shines a laser pointer it can cause blindness and that could cause a crash in the sky.  "If you get a laser directly into your eyes, not only are you temporary blinded but you are not able to see for five or ten minutes," says pilot Erik Stegman.
 
The fine for shining a laser at an aircraft can be $11,000 per violation.  The FAA has not said whether they will charge the boy responsible for shining the laser pointer.
 
According to the FAA, this type of prank is becoming more popular and it's making the skies more dangerous.  From 2006 to 2012 the reports of laser pointer distractions increased by more than 3,000.
 
The FAA says they work with federal, state and local law agencies to press charges against anyone who aims a laser at an air plane.
 
One man could soon pay up for the same prank.  In July, 2012, an Omaha man aimed a laser at an aircraft and a police helicopter.  He could pay $250,000 in fines and spend five years in prison.  He is due for sentencing in July.