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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Scary thought for air travelers

This kind of thing is happening with increasing frequency.

Comments (9)

Wow, the benefits of being too poor to travel just keep multiplying and multiplying!

Who says this economy isn't working out?

Yay, deprivation!

I call BS.... How does a laser go through the windshield of the cockpit... at the altitude they fly and unless they are descending I would imagine it would be very hard to get a laser in the line of sight of the pilots.

I have had some pretty decent laser pointers and the range and visibility has never been that great.

Those lasers, including the green ones, might be a nuisance, but I doubt they cause any damage. (At least my eyes are fine after my brother tagging me with one multiple times.)

Reminds me of the case of the cop now on disability because of "retinal damage" because of some kid flashing one of those at him. (That kid went to jail for a half dozen years IIRC.)

Just a couple of years ago while sitting with friends one evening at a sidewalk cafe, as a TriMet bus went through the intersection I became aware of an intensely bright red dot in my peripheral vision coming from one of the windows in the back of the bus. In 2 seconds it was over and the bus was gone. I instantly realized it had been a laser pointer and also became aware of grey zone in my night vision that persisted throughout the rest of the evening and into the next day.

An eye exam at an opthalmologist a few days later confirmed that my retina had been burned and I was told that it might get better, or it might never, or I might just stop noticing it.

Research online and a call to the police confirmed that red laser pointers with illegally higher power are easily available on the internet and certainly can cause eye damage. Green lasers are even more powerful and are also available over the internet. Only a few seconds of exposure from an undiscernible location and undiscernible distance somewhere off in the dark can cause semi-permanent or permanent damage, especially to eyes that are already dilated for night vision.

This stuff is definitely a public health hazard and shouldn't be so easy to get.

I think a small physics lesson might be in order here, namely the inverse square law.


This law works applies to lasers at far distances (which would include someone on the ground and a plane flying). It might not apply to a distance of 10 to 50 feet depending on the design and construction of the laser involved.


The inverse square law would apply at all distances, so it's true pilots high in the sky are probably at little risk since it's unlikely someone 7 miles below on the ground would have a device with enough power to be much nuisance. But during landing approaches at low altitudes over neighborhoods I think the hazard is probably very real. The bus rider that got me was a good 60+ feet away across several lanes, and that was only a red laser.

Be sure to keep up to date with the tech. Last year a new laser hit all the MSM. Lights matches, melts plastic, pops balloons, can be seen over 14 miles.


Y tube is full of kid vids doing crazy stuff with these.

The super hots can run $200 and over but so do the shoes kids like.

Yes the distance weakens the effect, but the human eye lens also concentrates it!

"Mr. Goldwasser said poor regulation contributed to the problem"

According to the R's regulation of businesses is always "job killing". If only the gubmit would get out of the way we'd be living in the land of milk and honey.

Yeah, let's make laser diodes a restricted commodity, and watch as everyone cries when prices of CD / DVD / Blu-ray players go up, as they use lasers to do what they do.

Instead of restricting electronics that have too many legitimate purposes to count, why don't we restrict aiming them at aircraft, or people's eyes?

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