Coast Guard Pilots Weary of Laser Strikes
U.S. Coast Guard pilots across the country have been targeted by laser pointers, with more Coast Guard flights interrupted by laser strikes last year than in any other year, Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Lehmann reported last week.
He cited the Federal Aviation Administration as the source of data indicating laser strikes rose from 283 to 3,591 between 2005 and 2011 and exceeded 3,700 last year. His article mentions Lt. j.g. Ryan McCue, a pilot with Coast Guard Air Station Houston who has been targeted twice.
"It can be a big drain on the unit if we're constantly being lasered," McCue told Lehmann. "When a crew gets lasered, they can't fly again for 24 hours or until they can get in to see an eye doctor for an examination and are medically cleared. Meanwhile, another crew has to be woken up in the middle of the night to fill in. With only 17 people at our air station that can fly, it can take a serious toll on our mission effectiveness."
"If it flies, it's been targeted," said Lynn Lunsford, an FAA spokesperson. "Hardly a night goes by in the U.S. that we don't have three to five laser incidents, if not more, in all the major metropolitan areas. I saw several laser reports just last night. It's something that happens every night somewhere in the country."
Those who use laser pointers to target pilots can be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and fined up to $11,000.