Pointing lasers can flash-blind pilots - WNEM TV 5

Pointing lasers can flash-blind pilots

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BAY COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A new warning from police after two people in southern Bay County were caught shinning this laser pointer at a Michigan State Police chopper.

"It's startling to be hit in the face with blinding light," said Sgt. Jim Lang. "It is against the law – a violation of federal law."

Lang said police found the suspects after the pilot radioed police vehicles on the ground.

“If they radio in and have access to contact police they can be in the area in a pretty short order,” Lang said.

Up close in person, a laser pointer beam looks small, but up in the air it's a whole different view.

“When that light meets the target of the aircraft it would illuminate the whole face of the pilot or anybody else in the aircraft,” Lang said.

Lang said that can be extremely dangerous for someone flying a plane.

“It's surprising, it's distracting, it can cause flash-blindness really a danger to a pilot in control of an aircraft where you know the potential to go out of control and crash,” Lang said.

The people who pointed the laser in Bay County could still be charged by federal prosecutors. they could then face up to five years in prison and thousands in fines.

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