Laser Pointers Are a Very Big Problem for Aircraft, Apparently

By Alexis C. Madrigal

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released two videos that together form a cautionary tale about the dangers of sending your laser pointers to the sky.

Apparently, there were 2,836 "laser events" logged with the Federal Aviation Administration. That's nearly double the number of "laser events" from 2009. In the video above, you can see how a person with a laser pointer was tracked down and arrested. Can you imagine what that would be like? Shine a pointer into the sky and minutes later, you're carted off by the cops! In the video below, the FBI tells the story of how it happens and even drags the poor guy who got nailed to the microphone.

There is a real safety issue here, it seems. When you aim a laser pointer very far away, the cone of light it emits grows with distance. So, by the time it reaches a helicopter or plane, it can light up the cockpit and blind the pilots.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/laser-pointers-are-a-very-big-problem-for-aircraft-apparently/245784/