Originally Posted by letsgojunior
He lasered a commercial jetliner with 100-200 people on it...
Actually it was a chartered cessna with about a dozen people on board...but that doesn't change the fact that it was an extremely stupid and dangerous thing to do. That said, I'd be shocked if he gets 25 years.
This happened about 10 miles from where I live.
Here's the story from my local paper.
N.J. man charged with shining laser at airplane
Wednesday, January 5, 2005
By TOM TRONCONE and DOUGLASS CROUSE
NEWARK - The pictures on the Web site for the company selling the Jasper laser pointer show a bright green beam of light ascending into the night sky. Use the cigar-shaped gizmo to point out stars, the Web site says.
A Parsippany man who bought the pointer and, according to authorities, shone it into the sky above his house is facing 25 years in federal prison for temporarily blinding two pilots during their approach to Teterboro Airport last Wednesday.
David W. Banach, 38, appeared before a federal magistrate Tuesday on charges that he violated a portion of the Patriot Act when the laser he was using in his back yard struck a chartered Cessna Citation owned by Atlantic Aviation Flight Services of Teterboro.
Banach is charged with interfering with a mass transportation vehicle, as well as lying to the FBI during his interrogation. He was released on an unsecured $100,000 bond.
His attorney, Gina Mendola-Longarzo, blasted the government, saying her client is being made a "sacrificial lamb" and used to "send a message" to others. She called the incident unintentional and said Banach is "in a state of shock" over the charges.
"I have a lot of respect for the U.S. Attorney's Office, but one would think they would want to chase real terrorists," Mendola-Longarzo said. "He will plead not guilty. ... We are going to fight these charges."
Mendola-Longarzo said Banach and his 7-year-old daughter were toying with the laser pointer on a deck in their back yard, pointing at trees, neighbors' houses and the sky. She said Banach did not intend to disrupt the plane, which the FBI said was traveling at close to 300 mph at an altitude of 3,000 feet.
The incident and its similarity to several others reported across the country prompted a widespread investigation bythe FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, Federal Aviation Administration, New Jersey State Police, Passaic County Sheriff's Department, the Morris and Passaic County prosecutors offices, Port Authority police and the Parsippany, Morris Plains, Morristown, Rockaway and Wayne police departments.
Two days after the incident, the pilot, identified in court papers as R.D.,accompanied investigators in a Port Authority helicopter in an attempt to identify the plane's location when the laser struck it, according to the criminal complaint.
Using an FAA mapping of the plane's flight path from Florida to Teterboro, the pilot directed the helicopter to the vicinity where the beam originated.
While circling above the area, the helicopter was struck by a similar green laser and shone a spotlight on the home from which the beam emanated so officers on the ground could approach the house, the complaint states.
When officers arrived at his house, Banach blamed the helicopter incident on hisdaughter and denied pointing the laser at the plane, it says.
Banach gave investigators the laser and consented to an interview in his home, during which investigators said he admitted to shining the beam at the helicopter. He accompanied FBI agents to their Newark office and consented to a polygraph, the complaint says.
Banach, a married father of three, later admitted that he was responsible for both laser incidents, authorities allege. He was not charged with shining the beam on the helicopter because it is not considered a mass transit vehicle, they said.
"We have to send a clear message to the public that there is no harmless mischief when it comes to airplanes," U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said. "Mr. Banach's actions as alleged in the criminal complaint put innocent lives at risk. That is illegal and unacceptable."
Joseph Billy Jr., FBI special agent in charge of New Jersey, called Banach's actions "foolhardy and negligent."
Banach, who did not address the charges Tuesday, uses the tool for work, shining the laser down fiber-optic cables to check for breaks, his lawyer said.
Banach bought the pointer from Bigha Inc. in early December, marketing director Noah Acres said Tuesday.
"From what I've heard I don't think he had any kind of elaborate setup," such as a tripod, Acres said. "Basically I think that people living in highly populated areas need to be aware of air traffic. A pilot's eyes are dark-adjusted so a sudden flash of light can be very distracting."
The Jasper pointer's beam is visible at 10,000 feet and can be fitted with a tripod and a scope to aim at moving objects, according to Bigha's Web site, which lists guidelines that include not shining the laser at planes.
"This green laser can't really blind you from that distance but it can certainly distract you," Acres said. "And many of these incidents have occurred during a plane's approach, when the pilot is in a particularly vulnerable situation."
Acres said federal authorities contacted the company last week for background on green lasers. People also use the lasers in groups to point out birds or plant life, and some military personnel use them to aim weaponry, he said.
A green laser is significantly more powerful than a conventional red laser, according to Bigha, which sells the device for $119. The beam shoots from the pointer at 186,000 miles per second. When beamed into the night sky, photons will eventually travel over the full distance of the galaxy, the Web site claims.
Executives with Atlantic Aviation Flight Services weren't available for comment Tuesday, according to a woman who answered the phone at its Industrial Avenue office in Teterboro.
Last week, a pilot in Cleveland reported a laser beam entering his cockpit. That same day, two pilots in Colorado Springs reported seeing green laser lights. And in September, a Delta Air Lines pilot complained that a beam hit his eyes near Salt Lake City.
A bulletin issued to law enforcement officials in November said there is evidence that terrorists have explored using lasers to blind pilots as they land planes.
The Air Line Pilots Association is looking at ways of educating pilots about the risks of laser beams and how best to respond if the beams penetrate the cockpit, spokesman Pete Janhunen said. In the meantime, the association preaches common sense.
"We've been saying that if pilots do notice it, they should keep their eyes on the instruments and not out the windows," Janhunen said.