"Lasing" incidents on the rise; helicopters being hit more often - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

"Lasing" incidents on the rise; helicopters, planes being hit more often

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

We've heard a lot about this lately -- pilots having laser pointers aimed at them while they're flying.  They say it's only a matter of time before this causes a pilot to be disoriented and lose control of their aircraft.

Phoenix ranks number 3 in the country when it comes to the amount of laser strikes on aircraft.

The Phoenix Police Department air unit helicopter took off Monday night from Deer Valley Airport -- something they do over and over every day, patrolling the valley.  But air unit pilots say at night, their job gets even more uncertain.

They are getting laser pointers aimed at them as they fly over scenes more and more often -- something they say isn't just dangerous, but could also be deadly.

"I was noticing a green light coming into the cockpit.. and I told him I think we're getting lazed," said Officer John Meche.  

Meche was flying the chopper with a partner Sunday night when they were hit with a laser pointer.

"It left my left eye blurry for I would say probably about three hours. It was probably the brightest laser I've seen since I've been up here.. and I've been hit quite a few times," he said.

Laser pointers are powerful and cheap and the pilots who've had them pointed at them while flying say most people who've been caught say they didn't realize how serious it can be.

"They're just out there with the lasers, goofing around.. they think it's funny and they don't realize what's going on and what can actually happen," said Phoenix police pilot James Lenihan.

Meche added, "The danger not only to us and the helicopters, but to commercial airliners -- they get hit all the time coming into Sky Harbor."

The FBI and FAA are trying to crack down by offering a $10,000 reward leading to the arrest of people who do this because it really is putting people at risk.

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