Seven Laser Beam Incidents Now Reported

The number of laser beams directed into cockpits of flying airplanes is now at seven since Christmas. The airports affected so far: Teeterboro (N.J.); Houston, Medford, Ore., Washington, D.C.; Cleveland and Colorado Springs;

On the same day at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the FBI says, a green laser light beam was directed into the cockpit of a Continental 737 that was 15 miles from the runway. "This plane was targeted," said FBI special agent Bob Hawk. "It just didn't flash for a moment inside the cockpit. The plane was traveling at about 300 miles an hour, at about 8,500 to 10,000 feet. It followed the plane inside the cockpit for two to four seconds."

Despite the issuance of a homeland security alert last month warning that terrorist groups had shown an interest in the laser devices, the FBI says not to worry:

Last month the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to law enforcement agencies, warning "terrorist groups overseas have expressed an interest in using these devices." But, they added, there is "no specific or credible intelligence indicating that terrorists intend to use lasers as weapons against civilian targets in the homeland."

The Air Line Pilots Association isn't so sure:

"The fact that they've been in different places in different times and now that they're increasing in number tells me this is more than just a coincidence," said Capt. Dennis Dolan, vice president of the pilots' group.

The danger of lasers is that they can temporarily blind pilots:

It can flash-blind one or both pilots in the airplane for a period of time where they can't see anything," Dolan said. In fact, in September, a Delta pilot five miles from the Salt Lake City runway apparently suffered temporary eye damage when the plane was flooded with laser light. The plane landed safely.

So if it isn't terrorists, then who? And why is the FBI sounding so unworried after all the false alarm terror threats of the past? This is rather uncharacteristic of them.

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    Re: Seven Laser Beam Incidents Now Reported (none / 0) (#1)
    by Richard Aubrey on Sat Jan 01, 2005 at 08:30:02 AM EST
    Kelite, I'd think the terrs would wait to take credit until they'd actually caused something bad to happen. The object would not, as far as I can see, be to injure a pilot's eye, but to distract him at the critical point of landing and cause a crash. You don't need to injure the eye to do that. Think about driving into headlights with a sudden flare of light on a dirty windshield. The aforementioned diffraction of the beam due to imperfections in the windshield would probably be a feature, not a bug. What strategic point is there to this? If it's a lone wolf, there doesn't need to be any in his mind. He just wants to make chaos and kill people. To damage the society and economy would be a strategic goal, although the impact would be minimal. There are laser-resistant goggles, I believe, so pilots might be issued those. So that problem is solved. They go on to another. But when every social and economic action needs to be hardened in some fashion or another, it will be a strain. However, communists and other revolutionaries usually know/knew that revolution is easier when the society is undergoing stress, so the first step is to stress the society. As one historian said, the reformer is the deadly enemy of the revolutionary. Fixing things is not the revolutionary's goal. Ruining them is. So a crash here, a sabotaged petroleum tank farm there, a propane tanker going up next to a school, resulting in calls for restrictions on civil liberties, the revolutionary gets on the side of "freedom". First, of course huge numbers of people have to be made so miserable (which a grad student said to me in 1967 about South Africa) that revolution is preferable. As if I'm telling anybody here anything they didn't know. Hence, the coupling--strictly forbidden in Leviticus--between the left and the Islamofascists. They each think they'll come out on top the other side of the catastrophe. You might consider the reaction of the rest of us to your attempts.

    Re: Seven Laser Beam Incidents Now Reported (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jan 03, 2005 at 02:58:43 PM EST
    I follow you, Richard Aubrey, and I was thinking just what you were about the "tracking." I imagine that all you'd need to do is bolt a high-power telescope to a high-power laser, bolt that assembly onto a large, high-quality tri-pod, calibrate it so the dot appears in the center of a view, and position yourself directly in line with the approach a couple of miles away. Have 2, 3, or 4 of these setups working in tandem and you might be able to pull off blinding the pilot and copilot. I don't think this sounds all that far-fetched.

    Re: Seven Laser Beam Incidents Now Reported (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 12:47:07 PM EST
    This has apparently been going on for sometime...here is a link to a citation of a study on "the illumination of airline pilots". The hosting company provides this and other studies for "government" use. See: http://www.stormingmedia.us/56/5683/A568324.html