Police in San Jose, CA raided a home this week, in the latest attempt to find the source of blinding laser light that is being flashed into commercial aircraft cockpits trying to land at Mineta International Airport. The search did not turn up any sign of the laser. “We received several calls from the FAA and also from some citizens stating that there was a green laser emanating from a residence pointing at some commercial airliners,” said Serge Palanov, spokesman from the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Department. “Our own helicopter — Star One — went up in the air into vicinity and they also experienced this green laser pointing at them.” Small lasers, used commonly as light pointers, can beam a high intensity light over a long distances. If the beam were to strike a pilot’s eyes, it could blind him or her.
“It can temporarily blind you for that split second and then it takes you another 20- 30 minutes for your eyes to readjust fully to see outside that cockpit again,” San Francisco International Airport spokesman Mike McCarron told KTVU-2. “Because what you want the pilots to do is to be able to see outside the cockpit — see other aircraft… see obstacles… obstructions lights… the flashing red lights on radio towers and stuff like that?It can be very critical on the most critical part of the flight.”
A recent analysis by the FAA states in a three month period ending in January of last year, lasers were aimed at aircraft 84 times throughout the nation. That’s almost once a day — and half of those were aimed at airliners.
“This could be punished as a felony with state prison time,” Palanov said, adding police plan to increase their search for the culprit. “This is a very serious offense.”