Pointing lasers at planes a growing problem, has criminal conseq - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Pointing lasers at planes a growing problem, has criminal consequences

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -
Federal authorities have issued a report about lasers being used to target aircraft over Lake Charles.
 
At least one incident this year has triggered an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. It happened to Randy Liprie, a local pilot. 

On a routine landing at Chennault with his son, Liprie noticed something not so routine.   
 
"We started noticing some flashes that were unusual, some green flashes that, at first, thought was something different that distracted us," said Liprie.
 
He went down a mental checklist, making sure his wing lights and on board instruments were all in order. 
 
"It was something abnormal from what you normally see inside a dark cockpit," Liprie said. "Then we realized that it was someone panning us with a laser, a green laser from the ground."
 
Pointing lasers at airplanes has become a dangerous trend and the number of reported incidents has skyrocketed. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 384 reported laser incidents in 2006. In 2012, there were 3,482 reported. 

Jeremy Chafin is a Lake Charles resident who has three low-powered lasers he said are just for fun. 

"I never knew what kind of criminal consequences are with it," he said. "Pure fascination is what it is for me ... I'm just fascinated by it." 
 
He's not alone in the laser-loving community. 
 
"You can get them for really cheap or you can spend loads of money into it," said Colby Fruge, another Lake Charles low-power laser owner. "It's just for the thrill for me." 
 
While they may be used for different hobbies, like stargazing, Liprie just wants people to understand not only the criminal consequences the lasers pose, but the real safety threat as well. 
 
"It's nighttime and you get flashed and spotted, next thing you know a person can't see their instruments, you know, and can't properly fly their aircraft in a safe manner," he said.

Liprie's incident was reported to the FAA. The FBI is now leading the investigation.  

Randy Robb is the executive director of the Chennault International Airport Authority. He issued this statement to KPLC regarding the recent incidents:

"Laser energy directed at or around an aircraft in the air is such a serious threat to our aviation safety that it may be considered a federal offense, since our national airspace structure is regulated by a federal agency, the FAA. If word gets out that we are experiencing laser hazards at Chennault, it could have a negative effect on the willingness of aviators to use Chennault as an airport."

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved. 

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