FBI offering reward for information in laser-aircraft incidents

(Source: MGN Online)
(Source: MGN Online)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Laser pointers and aircraft don't mix.

The FBI has launched a nationwide campaign offering up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone who has aimed a laser at any type of aircraft since 2012.

"It's not typically the inadvertent pointing them at a star, and an aircraft crossed in the path of a laser," said Britt Johnson, special agent in charge for FBI Atlanta. "I mean, this is intentional negligent behavior by pointing a laser at an aircraft."

It is considered a felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

In June 2013, federal authorities issued a report about lasers being used to target aircraft over Lake Charles.

At least one incident triggered an investigation by the FAA. 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," Liprie said.

Pointing lasers at airplanes has become a dangerous trend, and the number of reported incidents has skyrocketed. According to the FAA, there were 384 reported laser incidents in 2006. In 2012, there were 3,482 reported.

In late May, state lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting aiming a laser at an aircraft.

In Louisiana, intentionally shining a laser at a plane or in its flight path carries a prison sentence of at least one year and up to five years for a first offense.

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