Pilots Educate Public about Hazards of Lasing
A press conference was held July 24 on board Naval Station Mayport to inform the public about multiple aircraft lasing incidents within the region.
Lasing, or the act of pointing a laser at an aircraft and its occupants, is extremely dangerous and against the law. Lasing can temporarily blind an aircrafts' pilot and can cause permanent eye damage, even from a distance.
"Lasing aircraft is not only dangerous, it's illegal. It's a third degree felony, which is punishable by up to five years in prison," said Lt. Cheryl Griswold, aero-medical safety officer, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic Fleet. "It's a second degree felony if someone is injured due to a lasing incident."
During the press conference, pilots talked about their personal experiences with aircraft lasing and expressed the importance of increasing community awareness on the subject.
"I was flying off the coast at night, about a mile out at 500 feet and I saw a green light coming from the coastline," said Lt. Fernando Reyes, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40. "It seemed like a lighthouse, but there was something odd about it. Suddenly the light started moving sporadically and eventually hit the aircraft. Everybody thinks of a laser as a small beam of light. Well when that laser is coming from that distance, it spreads quite a bit and it was able to light up the entire aircraft. It felt like we had a spotlight on us. It hit me directly in the face while I was at the controls and I was blinded for approximately two seconds."
The news conference was held to raise awareness to the public and to give faces to the pilots in the aircrew. According to Griswold, the pilots should be viewed as people living the community, not just random, faceless strangers. These pilots provide valuable services to the military and the public through surface rescue and medical transport missions.
Article by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Salt Cebe, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East, Detachment Southeast