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Laser Strikes On Aircraft Becoming Epidemic

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the good-place-to-put-advertising dept.

Crime 687

First time accepted submitter AlphaWolf_HK writes "Ars Technica has a story about a 52 year old man who was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail for shining a high powered green laser at a helicopter along with an interesting video showing how he was tracked down. The FBI says that laser strikes are becoming epidemic, saying that they expect to see reports of 3,700 of them this year."

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Sysiphus (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571873)

Make the bastard spend his years in line for the TSA.

green laser fp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571881)

suck a fuck

Find a technical solution, not a legal "solution" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571895)

Find a technical solution, not a legal "solution"

There is not a legal solution that is going to work. People just don't get it. Throwing people in jail doesn't solve the problem. You can have a death penalty sentence and it won't make one bit of a difference. Putting people in jail is nothing more than revenge against someone who didn't understand what they were doing in the first place. If they actually understood it and realized the danger and the risk (legal) they wouldn't have done it.

Find a technical solution to the problem. If you can't do that and this is that serious an issue clear the surrounding area of people. We built homes in some really stupid places. Lets get rid of them.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (5, Insightful)

Jahf (21968) | about 2 years ago | (#41571945)

Actually I think a few of these cases getting out and being better known -would- prevent many cases. Face it, this didn't start proliferating as a problem on it's own. People saw the news where a few of these cases happened and though "oh that's funny, I could do that too, no one can catch me". Cases skyrocketed over the last couple of years since the news got posted.

That same approach can be made to curtail the problem. It just requires an equal amount of energy being put into it.

The only problem I see with this particular article was that it was very clear just how much of a dumbshit the guy with the laser was. If he had been inside a building or car going from place to place to change where he used the laser from he probably wouldn't have been caught. Likewise had he discarded the laser the second he saw a police car coming, while out of site of the helicopter, chances are fair they wouldn't have found the evidence either.

What "technical solution" do you see to visible light being shown through a window? And how could you make it commercially viable to every aircraft in the sky? Brainstorm it. If you find something, great, but that's a pretty damned huge problem.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (5, Funny)

pellik (193063) | about 2 years ago | (#41571983)

My solution would be to mount even more powerful lasers on some of the aircraft. Fight fire with fire. Plus, it would just be cool.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0, Offtopic)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41572213)

Are you suggesting flying sharks [youtube.com] ?

Sorry, but a legal solution is what the govt wants (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571951)

Lasers are going to get banned.
Mere possession of one without a license (which will be damned near impossible for any individual to obtain) will be a felony.

Re:Sorry, but a legal solution is what the govt wa (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 2 years ago | (#41572311)

They can pry my cd burner from my cold dead hands.

Re:Sorry, but a legal solution is what the govt wa (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41572461)

So they're going to go around and collect all those DVD, CD, and BluRay players? Not a chance, lasers for civilians are here to stay.

Re:Sorry, but a legal solution is what the govt wa (5, Insightful)

Grave (8234) | about 2 years ago | (#41572477)

Lasers are not the problem. The appropriate solution is to label the crime what it is -- attempted murder against the number of people onboard. Have fun with your back to back life sentences for trying to kill 300 people, jackass.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0, Redundant)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 2 years ago | (#41571991)

Technical solution: Mount a weapons-grade laser on the aircraft and return fire.

=Smidge=

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41571993)

You want a technical solution that shields the pilots/airborne vehicle from lasers? That would be technically impossible. So there you go, other than legal, what other solutions do you have?

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#41572129)

You want a technical solution that shields the pilots/airborne vehicle from lasers? That would be technically impossible. So there you go, other than legal, what other solutions do you have?

A military solution, obviously.

If someone pulls a gun or a knife on you then you are (more-or-less) allowed to respond to the threat with deadly force in self defence. If someone shines a laser in your eyes while you are operating a vehicle (more dangerous when done to a car) then the threat is similar and so the same response should be allowed.

Failing that, perhaps a pair of Super Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses?

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572373)

Unfortunately, our current military solution is to send unarmed personnel to guard spies in foreign country. So that wouldn't be my first pick.
Obama won't be my first pick either.
Your solution requires a socialist-facist state, where local boys set up swat teams that use overwhelming force to keep the rabble in line.
You know kind of like what the NAZI's used to have, but what we have now.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (5, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | about 2 years ago | (#41572163)

You could certainly make it a combination of technical and legal. For example you make it illegal to manufacture or import a laser of any but a handful of wavelengths. Then install filters for those wavelengths over the cockpit windows. Yes it won't stop everything. But the vast majority of lasers are commercially purchased. If you can't purchase one that will get into a cockpit, problem solved.

For the ass-hats who insist on building their own and proceed to point it at airplanes and cars, well we can start with two to four charges of assault and go on to three hundred cases of attempted first degree murder. Followed up by a couple hundred civil lawsuits. Not only can they spend the rest of their lives in jail, but they will be bankrupted as well. If they happened to be married -- until their spouse gets a divorce -- joint property for the win. Go ahead and make the wife and kids homeless.

There is no rational reason why a civil society should have to put up with this kind of shit.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (2, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 2 years ago | (#41572195)

You want a technical solution that shields the pilots/airborne vehicle from lasers? That would be technically impossible.

Impossible? Almost all of the cases in question have involved handheld 532nm green lasers from a substantial distance, so all you really need to do is mix up a coating to apply to the windows that contains the same dye that laser safety goggles use. The filtering wouldn't have to be particularly strong to effectively eliminate the green light, resulting in a slight orangeish tint to the aircraft windows. Alternately, instead of coating the windows you could make filters from plastic sheets that attach to the windows at night using Velcro or some other means. It's not a difficult problem to solve.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (4, Interesting)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41572381)

Not all are green lasers. You only have to go wicked lasers to find lasers of all sorts of frequencies. One of your sibling posters suggested, combing these filters with legislation to only sell lasers at specific frequencies. That would eliminate most of these complains (unless the pesky chinese start selling these lasers directly from china, aliexpress anyone?). But I am not a fan govt interference and I would rather they spend time educating people/children and making the punishments well known, than legislating laser frequencies.
 
And you are assuming, it is easy to build such filters. It is not that easily to build analog filters that block a very narrow range of frequencies. It would very very difficult to build and would still result in loss of light in other frequencies. If you are talking about blocking multiple frequencies, you might as well forget about this idea.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572463)

How the Chinese mail order places is not unlike the US dropping guns behind the enemy line back in the old days. ;)

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41572299)

Well, first... the lasers don't have much effect on the aircraft although they may suprize the pilot.
Second: The technical solution is Polarized glass.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41572389)

Mod UP! It really is a solution that will work pretty much perfectly.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (3, Informative)

Mojo66 (1131579) | about 2 years ago | (#41572441)

But the orientation of the polarization is unknown. It could be adjusted by the pilot but wouldn't prevent an initial surprise effect. It is practically useless.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (3, Interesting)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41572407)

Actually, I thought of one. Get rid of the window. Replace it with an array of video cameras and a big viewing screen. Put different color filters on each of the cameras and have a computer system that will turn off one of the cameras if it gets excessive amounts of light.

I didn't say it was an affordable solution.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

cluedweasel (832743) | about 2 years ago | (#41572013)

Find a technical solution, not a legal "solution"

Drone strike?

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572079)

Find a technical solution to the problem. If you can't do that and this is that serious an issue clear the surrounding area of people. We built homes in some really stupid places. Lets get rid of them.

Wait, what?

You don't want a legal solution lest some idiots be thrown in jail unjustly, but you'd be okay with forcibly removing everyone from a large area and tearing down their homes?

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572101)

Also, people in hell want ice water.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#41572161)

There is not a legal solution that is going to work.

We could make reporting them illegal. That should slow it down... since most of the people who do this are getting the idea from watching it in our popular media. Mind you, I don't advocate this position, but... it is a legal solution, and it would work.

As far as technical solutions... The only one is not having an aircraft with windows. You might imagine there are some problems with that plan. And due to the wide range of frequencies that lasers can operate over, there's no way to design glasses that could be used to filter them out.

Perhaps the solution is to restrict the sale and use of lasers, even though that would mean that bluray burners and other optical media, as well as home theatre projectors and a few other legitimate uses would have to be shitcanned -- or at least redesigned so extracting the laser from the assembly would be difficult or impossible without destroying the laser in the process. Most of these laser strikes are made from commodity consumer equipment... if we redesign the equipment so the lasers self-destruct upon tampering, we cut off the supply.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41572245)

Perhaps the solution is to restrict the sale and use of lasers, even though that would mean that bluray burners and other optical media, as well as home theatre projectors and a few other legitimate uses would have to be shitcanned -- or at least redesigned so extracting the laser from the assembly would be difficult or impossible without destroying the laser in the process.

Everything you said was right except this. You're not going to prevent people from getting their hands on lasers. That's a fool's game. But if you take away the green laser pointers from Random A. Yokel that's good enough to prevent the vast majority of abuses. Is it sad that such a thing is necessary? Yes. Is such a thing necessary? I believe the answer to that is also yes, but I'm open to other suggestions that actually nominally "solve" the problem.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572327)

A friend got one of these green lasers, purely because it seemed neat. He keeps it in his gun safe now. He quickly realized it was too powerful to be safely used without eye protection, he has no practical use for it, and he can't trust most people to use it responsibly if he lets them handle it. Even after a lengthy explanation of what not to do with it and why, some people will still point them at a person/animal/vehicle/building/something else that you would think would be bloody fucking obviously off-limits.

So yeah, I guess they are going to have be illegal now.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 2 years ago | (#41572427)

I know little about aviation, but wondering if ripping out the windows, or at least having some means of turning them opaque for a few seconds is actually not an impossible solution. Can a pilot fly a plane using only the instruments? Could some kind of camera system be rigged up so they are looking at a video feed vice out a window?

Extreme measures and cost of doing it would be enormous even if feasible, so this is just curiosity.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572303)

Oh you mean like attaching a hard-to-deactivate mems accelerometer that shuts off the laser if its inclined to above the level of the horizon?

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (5, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41572337)

It's a BEHAVIOR problem. There is no such thing as a technical solution to a behavior problem.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572401)

The technical solution is to shoot these people on site.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 2 years ago | (#41572405)

Submitter here...

You're talking about much more than airports here. You'd also necessitate removing homes from hospitals as well since they use helicopters for emergency transport, and hospitals by their nature are near residential districts. This would also include police helicopters that fly at low altitude when following suspects.

I used to live near a hospital, helicopters flew at low altitude over my house somewhat frequently. I just recently moved near a smaller airport, which kind of works out nice as someone in my household owns a small aircraft.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (1)

Mojo66 (1131579) | about 2 years ago | (#41572417)

Lasers emit monochromatic light, hence it shouldn't be too hard to block just the few small wavelength bands that common lasers use while letting the rest of the light pass through the cockpit wind shields.

Re:Find a technical solution, not a legal "solutio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572425)

Find a technical solution, not a legal "solution"

There is not a legal solution that is going to work. People just don't get it. Throwing people in jail doesn't solve the problem. You can have a death penalty sentence and it won't make one bit of a difference. Putting people in jail is nothing more than revenge against someone who didn't understand what they were doing in the first place. If they actually understood it and realized the danger and the risk (legal) they wouldn't have done it.

Find a technical solution to the problem. If you can't do that and this is that serious an issue clear the surrounding area of people. We built homes in some really stupid places. Lets get rid of them.

Ah, yes, just like how the answer to armed robbery is to give everybody bulletproof armor (not just kevlar vests, no, I mean full-out mech bodysuits). Or maybe give everyone the telekinetic power to make guns fall apart in people's hands, a la The Sphinx from Mystery Men?

What? You're suggesting the answer is instead to give everyone guns so that nobody will shoot each other? Isn't that just trying to keep peace with the threat of revenge against murderers who didn't understand what they were doing in the first place? No, no, that won't do at all, need moar technical solutions to crime, break out the mech armor!

And this folks, is why we don't be dicks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571917)

Seriously, you want a laser light show? Don't go harassing other people with them. Be responsible with your toys.

Also you pretentious fucktards with those bright hi-beams? Fuck you.

Good. (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41571935)

"sentenced to three years in jail for shining a high powered green laser at a helicopter "

Good. And since it's a federal crime, he gets to serve 85 percent of that.

I almost had someone arrested for shining a laser at my friggin' eyes across a bar. But since I knew the person and knew he wasn't "all there" I just confronted him.

But if it was anyone else, I would have pressed charges. Yes, it's assault.

There needs to be *at a minimum* public education on this issue, and if nobody is willing to do that, then handheld lasers need to be outright banned for unlicensed individuals. This opinion is unpopular for slashdot, but shit really has gotten out of hand.

--
BMO

Re:Good. (1)

swalve (1980968) | about 2 years ago | (#41571965)

Not a ban, but education absolutely. Perhaps licensing. For sellers too. I don't like the idea of a technological future where only our betters (the cops) can get cool technology. It has already happened with some guns, it's going to happen with the lasers, it's going to happen with remote control helicopters. The only solution is to educate the public.

Re:Good. (1, Insightful)

bonehead (6382) | about 2 years ago | (#41572089)

then handheld lasers need to be outright banned

Perhaps licensing.

Fuck you both. The last thing this country needs is people actively suggesting ways to strip more freedoms away from the people.

Re:Good. (-1, Offtopic)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41572155)

Hey, nice stripping off the reasonable part of that sentence buddy.

Fuck you too.

Burning karma because you're an asshole.

--
BMO

Re:Good. (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#41572193)

The last thing this country needs is people actively suggesting ways to strip more freedoms away from the people.

No, that's the second-last thing this country needs. The last thing this country needs is a bunch of people walking around blind because dumbfucks like to play with pretty lights.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572271)

You have the freedom to own a gun, but licensing/registration is still required. I don't think that's such a terrible thing.
It's not a complete solution to this particular problem, but it's a better alternative than an outright ban.

If the situation continues to escalate and pose a danger to the public, then some solution is required. Ban or license/registration. Which would you prefer?

There's a lot of talk about individual freedoms. And it certainly requires eternal vigilance to protect those freedoms. I'm not going to assume you forget the following point (although based on your passion...), but many people do, and it bears remembering.

Your freedom ends at the precise point where it encroaches on someone else's freedom. Period.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41572185)

> I don't like the idea of a technological future where only our betters (the cops) can get cool technology.

I said "a ban for unlicensed individuals" just like you can't buy a kilowatt radio transmitter without a license from any reputable radio shop (there are plenty of assholes who will sell linears to CB owners, though, and they should be shut down).

You need to prove you're not an idiot before you can use technology that can do damage to people at a distance. And yes, people who can prove that they are not idiots *are* better than idiots, like this guy in the video.

Perhaps a graduated licensing scheme should be in order. Beyond a certain power, only businesses, scientists, and engineers should be allowed to have them after demonstrating a legitimate need.

--
BMO

Re:Good. (1, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#41572019)

There needs to be *at a minimum* public education on this issue, and if nobody is willing to do that, then handheld lasers need to be outright banned for unlicensed individuals. This opinion is unpopular for slashdot, but shit really has gotten out of hand.

No, i'm not going to willingly give up my rights because someone else is a moron.

And i dont even want one... and id still fight against that.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572131)

Since when were you granted a right to own a laser?

Re:Good. (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#41572199)

I have had it forever, it was given to me by God.

Re:Good. (4, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 2 years ago | (#41572349)

You are not granted rights.
Government does not grant rights, it recognizes them.

If you are in the US, please learn that the Constitution is NOT an enumeration of the rights of people, it's an enumeration of the rights of GOVERNMENT. All rights not mentioned in the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people.

Read the tenth amendment.

Do you REALLY want to live in a world where what rights you have are decided by someone else? Granted by government? Taken away by government?

Re:Good. (5, Informative)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 2 years ago | (#41572097)

We used to have the same problem in Australia. They took the outright ban approach here, it has massively reduced the incidents, not sure if I am in favour of that approach or not, but can't deny it has worked.

Re:Good. (2)

BurstElement (1332791) | about 2 years ago | (#41572231)

Higher powered lasers have been banned in Australia since way before the media reported incidents of shining lasers on aircraft appeared... any handheld self powered laser >1mW is prohibited.
I think that while the bans reduced availability of lasers high powered lasers to the general public the novelty factor for those that do have them makes many of those people more reckless.

Re:Good. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572121)

Are you a DA? If not, you can not "press charges."

Re:Good. (1)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41572467)

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/press_charges [wiktionary.org]

English
Verb

to press charges

        (intransitive, law) To formally accuse a person of a crime, especially by an ordinary person.

                I'm pressing charges against you for assaulting me.

Synonyms

        (formally accuse of a crime): complain, accuse, file a complaint

Re:Good. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572169)

Stuff has gotten of hand like everyone thinking the right response to every little thing is a ban and long prison sentences. There are or will likely be 3000+ incidents recorded for the US by the end of 2012. Less than on hundred of the incidents have or will produce any sort of effect on the pilot. So far only four pilots went for a eye exam after the incidents. By all means outlaw it, classify it as simple assault and prosecute those who do it but 3 years for an activity that has produced 4 eye exams seems silly. Heck close to 4000 people died from swimming pool and boating accidents last year in the US. It would make much more sense to ban people from going close to water for recreational purposes. We've got to stop overreacting to things just because they make us feel out of control of a situation.

This is not to say that this isn't a problem and it will possibly lead to a catastrophic event eventually and if does and that person kills 200+ people (still 1/20th of the deaths recreational use of water will cause in the US that year) in some sort of crash that person should be charged with negligent homicide 200 + times and he / she should get the length prison sentence but you can't prevent catastrophe through illogical laws with poorly proportioned punishments. My advice is that we find a technological solution.

Re:Good. (2)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41572243)

> My advice is that we find a technological solution.

There is no technological solution for dumbasses.

Tell me, how does the laser know if the person handling it is stupid or not? How would you prevent it from being pointed at an aircraft or someone's eyes?

--
BMO

Re:Good. (0)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41572375)

...and if nobody is willing to do that, then handheld lasers need to be outright banned for unlicensed individuals. This opinion is unpopular for slashdot, but shit really has gotten out of hand.

That's all we need, a new gun locker in every classroom to put away the laser pointers out of reach from children when not in use. And a massive anti-laser house-to-house search to find all the $5 laser pointers that the people will be hiding, or stockpiling, and reselling on the blackmarket, once this new law comes into effect.

How many aircrafts have actually been taking down by lasers?

Birds have taken down more aircrafts than lasers. May be, we should kill all birds too while we're at it.

Re:Good. (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41572453)

Why not let the person you knew arrested as well? Either he did not do something bad and should go free or he did and should be arrested.

Re:Good. (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 years ago | (#41572483)

There needs to be *at a minimum* public education on this issue, and if nobody is willing to do that, then handheld lasers need to be outright banned for unlicensed individuals. This opinion is unpopular for slashdot, but shit really has gotten out of hand.

So you believe it would have been better if the person had pepper sprayed you, instead?

Better warning labels would be a good idea, but far more dangerous things are unrestricted. Just because lasers are "new" doesn't make them fundamentally different from any other weapon.

Yes, this is a problem (2)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#41571949)

NAS Oceana (Virginia), for instance. Very close to the beach, final approach right over the beach and hotels. Mix in some beer fueled idiots on a 5th floor hotel balcony...

They've had many instances [wvec.com] over the last few years.

Re:Yes, this is a problem (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572275)

They've had many instances [wvec.com] over the last few years.

Duh? You mean the navy aircraft fly directly over civilian dwellings during final approach. I think that is the problem here.

Where I come from, there is a wide exclusion zone around air and navy bases. You can grow crop and store stuff, but that's about it. For a couple of years I lived about as close as you can be to an active air force base (one that got a lot of traffic from fighter jets of many origins during combined military exercises) and that never really was much of a nuisance. Nothing more than a distraction, every month or so, for a few seconds, usually when some random pilot would show off resulting in extra noise. And probably getting them scolded.

Re:Yes, this is a problem (4, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 2 years ago | (#41572449)

Duh? You mean the navy aircraft fly directly over civilian dwellings during final approach. I think that is the problem here.

When that base was built 50 years ago, it was only farmland around it. Money corrupts, land gets sold, and the Navy has been bitching about it for years.

The solution to this and other such crimes (1)

Mistakill (965922) | about 2 years ago | (#41571959)

Public humiliation via stocks IMO, with plenty of rotten tomatoes

Re:The solution to this and other such crimes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572343)

Why waste tomatoes? How about having laser shined into their eyes with eyelids taped open while in stocks?

Cruel and unusual?

Seems overkill sentence till you think about it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571971)

The sentence seems like it is overkill till you stop and think about it. The person is purposely trying to blind pilots, people who are flying vehicles which can weigh more than I want to know flying and capable of flying hundreds of miles and hour and trying to blind them. Safe to say I want those people to be able to see so they don't crash into anything as one down plane can result in hundreds of deaths easily.

And even ignoring the worst case scenerio thinking, one person near a airport doing this with good aim can cause quite a bit of havoc by blinding a few pilots. They can easily cause delays if the pilot has to wait to recover from being disoriented to land which costs the airlines money and delays passengers, etc.

Plus the guy who got 3 years probably won't even serve anywhere near that due to good behavior and with how overcrowded prisons/jails are overcrowded. I doubt he even see 6months and will get probation after that.

A modest proposal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571975)

We already know that the US government is working on using wing-mounted lasers to shoot down surface-to-air missiles.

Therefore, it stands to reason that one could also use wing-mounted missiles to shoot down surface-to-air lasers, thus solving the problem. The best thing about this idea is that the technology is already available!

Well, there I go again, finding brilliant and simple solutions to the world's problems. No need to thank me, folks.

"high powered green laser"? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41571979)

What was /he/ flying?? An Apache?

Green lasers are used, outside the lab, for day/night use in ballistic targeting systems. They're also powerful enough in some cases to cook the retina even at ranges of several miles.

anecdotal source: I use a Magfire green designator on an AGS PCR1 for ratting - the rats aren't bothered by the laser, they run a mile when they're hit with a red. They drop when they're hit with a lump of tinshot doing 700 feet per second.

Re:"high powered green laser"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572403)

The color isn't is the problem; its the power. General hand-held laser pointers (even green ones) are not typically powerful enough to cause permanent blindness as they would a) burn out the diode more quickly and b) burn through batteries like honey boo boo through butter. Unfortunately, this does not prevent them from temporarily blinding people, which is a huge problem for pilots. Yeah, I think you should have the book thrown at you if you decide to be such a contemptuous asshole. That doesn't mean I think we should ban the laser pointers. To cop a phrase: laser pointers don't blind people. People blind people.

Slightly Disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41571981)

The title got me worked up for something much, much more awesome than the actual story.

Jackassery is a main ingredient in... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 years ago | (#41572011)

the sad stew which is destroying "The Grand Experiment", since it's the perfect justification for control freaks to pass more and more laws restricting freedom.

Re:Jackassery is a main ingredient in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572175)

will probably end with a ban, so you cannot have a green laser but a semi automatic rifle is ok ....

Re:Jackassery is a main ingredient in... (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 years ago | (#41572249)

There's been a metric ass-load of effort trying to ban them. Thank the FSM for the 2nd Amendment!

When you consider the stupidity.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572027)

of the average person, the scary part is that half the population is dumber than that.

Let's break this down:

At it's most benign level, lasers can cause fear and temporary blindness.

Without considering the cost in human lives... most aircraft weigh in at about a ton plus, including highly combustible fuel. A crash is ALWAYS disastrous. I see no humor in this.

At worst, lasers are a common targeting system for anti-aircraft weapons. A military aircraft would be justified in a preemptive strike on ANY laser source on our home soil. Frankly, it should be standard policy for police as well as military. A smoking crater where a car or home used to be would be educational regarding the reckless use of lasers.

Frankly, 3 years imprisonment is far too light a sentence for such stupidity.

Three years is not much (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41572031)

For a country in constant fear of terrorists hijacking their planes you take it pretty lightly when someone actually tries to make airplanes fall. Three is a very light sentence, they should make an example of those that get caught.

Parental Guidance is a must. (3, Insightful)

sobolwolf (1084585) | about 2 years ago | (#41572077)

My young Stepson got one of these (powerful green laser) and I was pretty much blown away at the power of it... I did see when he was unpacking it lots of warnings so I spent some time with him when he first tested it out. So we get outside at night and what is the first thing he tries to do, yep point it a plane flying overhead... so cue the huge boring lecture from me about the danger of these things and how if he gets caught pointing his laser at planes, or cars or people's eyes he will be sent to a boys home... well I think he got the point. The main thing is that kids need to understand the danger of these things and there is a responsibility for parents to keep up with the times and actually understand that "new toy"...

Re:Parental Guidance is a must. (5, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#41572197)

My young Stepson got one of these (powerful green laser) and I was pretty much blown away at the power of it... I did see when he was unpacking it lots of warnings so I spent some time with him when he first tested it out. So we get outside at night and what is the first thing he tries to do, yep point it a plane flying overhead... so cue the huge boring lecture from me about the danger of these things and how if he gets caught pointing his laser at planes, or cars or people's eyes he will be sent to a boys home... well I think he got the point. The main thing is that kids need to understand the danger of these things and there is a responsibility for parents to keep up with the times and actually understand that "new toy"...

Aren't there laws against letting kids play with these things? You say "powerful" but don't specify the power, but i'm guessing it's high powered enough that it could blind you. And by young i assume you mean under 12 (or you would have said teenage). Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture? Kids that age are very likely to go from "hey wouldn't it be funny if..." to actually doing it without thinking it through, regardless of the number of "boring lectures" they've been submitted to. Especially when he's angling to impress a few mates. He doesn't need parental guidance, he needs parental supervision every time the thing comes out of its box. I'd be treating it with similar caution as a gun.

Re:Parental Guidance is a must. (2)

sobolwolf (1084585) | about 2 years ago | (#41572339)

yeah 12, but really it's not about age, it's about guidance - I had slingshots, bow and arrows and (heaven forbid) a pocket knife - all before the age of 12, these things can maim or kill if used irresponsibly, yet I am still here (as are my friends). Hell a kid can pick up a rock and throw it at someone and 99% of the time do more damage than a laser... so what would you suggest, lock the kids up and only allow outside with "parental supervision"?

Frivolous (-1)

DaKong (150846) | about 2 years ago | (#41572083)

I have a different perspective on this. To me, it's a dick-measuring contest where the "authorities" are putting Joe Q. Citizen in his place for daring to point a marker at them. It doesn't feel terribly different from what the cops do to citizens who videotape their conduct during protests--beat them silly.

The TSA, TIA program, Echelon, [Fatherland | Motherland | Homeland] Security Department, pervasive surveillance, and many other recent erosions of our freedoms have set this country on a swift tilt to totalitarianism. Note: I didn't say "Obama" or "Bush" or any other partisan attribution because it's a bipartisan effort on behalf of the government and those who control it to keep the rest of us down.

Unless those aforementioned parties straighten out and fly right in a hot hurry, I suspect they will soon long for the days when the only things being pointed at them were laser pointers and cameras.

Yes, yes, the U.S. government outguns any amount of rednecks with rifles, but the rednecks and other less-than-red necks outnumber the entire armed members of the U.S. government by orders of magnitude, and the number of soldiers willing to drop napalm on suburban Houston, though still greater than we would hope, is still far less than the government would like to pretend.

Re:Frivolous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572165)

You all are losing sight of what this is really about--pardon the pun. Shining lasers into human-flown airplanes = bad, don't do it unless you're being attacked. These people are quite stupid for doing this. However, lasers are going to be very effective, perhaps more effective, when they start flying unmaned ariel drones all over the place to spy on us "for our safety".

Did anybody notice this alleged "proliferation" of laser incidents and, more importantly, the attention and demonization from the authorities, all seemed to start right about the same time the FAA was being ordered by the Reichstag, er, Congress, to write rules allowing these for-profit corporate abominations to pollute our skies?

Re:Frivolous (1)

sobolwolf (1084585) | about 2 years ago | (#41572171)

Pointing a video camera at someone doesn't have the potential to cause blindness. This is more like assault / firing something at someone, ie if you fire a slingshot at a person you are gonna get done for assault, get caught firing a gun at a plain and you are in big trouble. Same deal. The 52 year old douche that did this deserves everything he has coming, probably more.

Re:Frivolous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572277)

Are you serious or just trolling under the guise of ignorance?

Flying a plane at night and getting shined, even very briefly, in the eyes can totally screw up your night vision, disorient you, and greatly affect your ability to fly the plane/helicoptor. How in the hell is that even remotely related to video recording police?

Next time you're in plane, think how would you feel during the landing approach (the most critical part of the flight) if your pilot was temporarily blinded and disoriented by some punk with a laser pointer.

Re:Frivolous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572413)

"I have a different perspective on this. To me, it's a dick-measuring contest where the "authorities" are putting Joe Q. Citizen in his place for daring to point a marker at them. It doesn't feel terribly different from what the cops do to citizens who videotape their conduct during protests--beat them silly."

thats a pretty dumb way to look at this, just so you know. and its not at all like your comparison.

the moron blinding pilots didn't know it was a cop helicopter, he was just dumb and unlucky enough that it was.

sadly some morons have no clue what isn't acceptable until someone has to make a law and charge em. you forget laws and stupid rules exist because of stupid people who abused their freedom in the first place.

Epidemic? (4, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#41572085)

There are approximately 76000 aircraft departures in the US every day. 76000*365= 27,740,000. 3,700/27,740,000= .00013. So 0.013% of flights have reported a laser strike and no aircraft have been downed. It would seem that the FAA need to look at the definition of epidemic.

Re:Epidemic? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572369)

>no aircraft have been downed

What, would it take the downing of an aircraft to satisfy you that there's a problem? What a toad you are.

Re:Epidemic? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572471)

10 -A- day attacks on pilots --abso-fucken-lutely-- necessity for vision, i would call that an epidemic. when some idiot gets a powerful enough laser that permanently damages or destroys a pilots vision and their is eventually a crash, will you consider it a problem then? especially if it went from ~250 to ~3700 in a year. that is infact an epidemic.

Easy Distraction (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 2 years ago | (#41572133)

Seems a little odd that a helicoptor escort can be that easily distracted/disabled. If the guy hasn't kept pointing it at them, they wouldn't have been able to find him either.

Re:Easy Distraction (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41572377)

Odd? You'd be "distracted" too if you were flying a helicopter and found yourself temporarily blinded.

Captain Robert Hamilton of the Air Line Pilots Association ... describes what it's like to take a direct cockpit hit from a laser beam. "I had temporary blindness. My eyes were burning. It caused disorientation, and it was distracting," he said.

Seriously???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572153)

The morons still using Laserpointers in Powerpoint presentations here have problems hitting the right spot on a 10 foot screen, how are they hitting a plane several hundret feet away???

I wonder how often this happens by accident (0)

Picass0 (147474) | about 2 years ago | (#41572181)

One of the most natural things in the world a kid with a lazer pointer will do is shine it straight up into the sky. Watching the unbroken beam of a lazer disappear into infinity is a pretty impressive sight. I could see where a young person casually waving a lazer around the night sky might breifly pass the beam over an aircraft.

Have we slid so far down the slippery slope that something like this will become punishable? Who do I vote for to restore some common sense?

I worry about kids growing up today. There's some really stupid shit that can get them in big trouble.

Re:I wonder how often this happens by accident (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41572305)

This wasn't by accident. It didn't "briely pass over an aircraft."

If you actually watched the video, the laser was pointed directly at the helicopter over a series of minutes. Accidental pointing would have been unlikely for such a period of time, since you need to track the helicopter for that long.

>Have we slid so far down the slippery slope that something like this will become punishable?

Your argument is unreasonable and legitimizes the pointing of lasers at people who have lives in their hands.

>There's some really stupid shit that can get them in big trouble.

And you can't deliberately point a weapon at whim at a person and not get in big trouble.

Mens rea was demonstrated in the video. He got done and fairly so.

--
BMO

Re:I wonder how often this happens by accident (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572367)

One of the most natural things in the world a kid with a lazer pointer will do is shine it straight up into the sky. Watching the unbroken beam of a lazer disappear into infinity is a pretty impressive sight. I could see where a young person casually waving a lazer around the night sky might breifly pass the beam over an aircraft.

Bullshit. Do a calculation of the solid angle of the windows of aircraft from the laser. Now compare that to the night sky. Take into account the brief time a plane is in a position to have light enter the cockpit and the number of planes flying.

The result: it isn't random, not by a long shot. The probability that a pilot sees a laser from a dumbass kid is miniscule. These attempted blinding events were intentional.

What now? (4, Informative)

Petersko (564140) | about 2 years ago | (#41572393)

"One of the most natural things in the world a kid with a lazer pointer will do is shine it straight up into the sky."

Good lord.

First of all, the odds that a kid would shine a laser into the sky and accidentally hit an aircraft are... well, stupendously low. The laser point is incredibly tiny, and the sky is incredibly large. And the slightest movement of the hand holding the laser has huge implications at the distance where an aircraft would intersect it. If it's not trained and held on the target, it would never be noticed.

So, "no" to whatever point you're making.

Re:I wonder how often this happens by accident (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572399)

If the kid's not old enough to understand to be wary of where he points the laser. . . maybe he shouldn't have the high powered green laser of bindingness?

"In grandpa's time, we used to shoot bb guns at each other. We had bottle rockets THIS BIG that we fired at each other. . ."

Sure, and in grandpa's time we had about 1/2 the population, and while grandpa's bb gun could hurt himself or his friends, it didn't have the power to be a menace to aircraft.

coat the cockpit/window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572191)

with some kind of mirror-like a one way mirror that would just reflect the beam away

Re:coat the cockpit/window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572315)

the better the mirror, the less of the scenery coming in you'll have to see too.

Re:coat the cockpit/window (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572331)

There is actually no such thing as a one-way mirror. You can have partially-silvered mirrors which appear to be one-way because the "observation" side of the mirror is kept dark while the "observed" side is well lit - but if you were to light up the side containing the observers, you would be able to see them.

Idiots and lasers = bad combo (5, Insightful)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 years ago | (#41572273)

I remember the time when I bought a HeNe Gas laser back in the 80's to make a spectacular laser show with, for the neighbors. I had no intentions on shining lights on airplanes or innocent people at all.

And I use lasers all the time in my electronics lab for experimentation.

Unfortunately, lasers have become so cheap, and super powerful laser-pointers (which has no real world use whatsoever) has become available to the street-kids, so we'll undoubtedly see these lasers become illegal for anyone to possess and own. Including innocent experimenters at home, thanks to the idiots in the streets who just find it fun to point 200mw lasers at anyone.

5mw is enough for anyone who wants to "play" with a laser pointer, it'll reach several hundred meters, enough to bedazzle the laymen out in the streets, and makes no difference from any 200mw+ laser whatsoever visibly, and furthermore...it won't blind anyone, not destroy pilots sights or policemen etc.

In fact...not even a 200mw laser will blind ANY pilot, as it is a physical impossibility to hold a 200mw laser beam of any significant distance steady by a human hand, it will shake - it will sway, it will swing...and the atmosphere will pollute and defocus the beam itself so it won't harm anyone.

Sad...just sad.

Re:Idiots and lasers = bad combo (1)

Elgonn (921934) | about 2 years ago | (#41572397)

I had no intentions on shining lights on airplanes or innocent people at all.

What guilty parties did you intend to shine it at?

Why is there no physical solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41572415)

We make films to filter out many wave lengths. Why isn't something used on the windscreen to protect the pilots?

Have you seen this Frenchman? (4, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 2 years ago | (#41572419)

Federal investigators have released this video [youtube.com] of a French citizen wanted in connection with an array of high-power green lasers aimed skyward.

Rumours that the "attack" was actually part of a concert were dismissed by US Federal Music Expert, Sam Confederate IV, who said "I know both types of music, and that there noise in the video ain't country *or* western."

However, attempts at having the suspect- known only as "Jimmy Shelljar"- deported from France to the United States have run into problems. A legal document, addressed to "Our bestest friend, Nicolas "L'Americaine" Sarkozy, The French White House, Paris, France" was returned marked "no longer at this address". In addition, scribbled underneath was a cartoon of a "cheese-eating surrender monkey" making an obscene gesture and the message, "Fuck you, arrogant Yankee scum! Signed President François "La Socialiste" Hollande".

Investigators believe that the suspect is motivated by frustration at not having released a worthwhile album in over ten years. More news as we get it.

Why not invert the colors of that police video? (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 2 years ago | (#41572421)

Why not invert the colors of that police video? Also found on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k4C8grAGP4# [youtube.com] !

Just for fun I took a screenshot of that video which looks like it has negative colors.

Then I opened it in GIMP and inverted the colours, lowered the contrast by bending color contrast curve.

The result was a much nicer image where the 3D objects looked "real", like the cars with "true" shadows etc.

It probably would have been even better if I could have used some of the other color channels, obviously available as the cameraman keeps switching between the different modes. Blending these may even produce near daylight images I guess. This must be available in real time even to policemen.

The current police movie looks so 1980s.

I doubt it is too expensive to get better shots than this. Wht's holding them back?

Political solution! (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41572423)

Send him to effing Guantanamo. Then close Guantanamo. Give it back to the Cubans. Let them deal with the scum we sent there.

In other news (1)

zammer990 (2225956) | about 2 years ago | (#41572491)

Killer sharks escaped from an aquarium earlier today, none have yet been recovered.
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