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Thread: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

  1. #1
    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    Well, on the radio this morning they said they arrested that guy who pointed a laser at an airplane and helicopter. They said under the patriot act, he could get up to 25 years in jail..

    This seems a little extreme to me, considering that hired killers get out in less than 10 years.. Other murders have only served 3-5 years. Now, I realize that if he gets 25 years, he may not have to serve them all.

    But, what's your opinion on an appropriate punishment?

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  3. #2
    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    Assuming it's his first offense? A fine. Some community service wouldn't be bad.

    I'm sure he'll be made an example of though. What wonderful times we live in.
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
    --Oscar Wilde

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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    He lasered a commercial jetliner with 100-200 people on it... planes have crashed over a lot less than having a pilot blinded when he's trying to land. I really have no problem with whatever penalty they want to give him. Air travel changed after 9/11, and when you have an idiot like this consciously endangering the lives of hundreds of people, he should be appropriately punished.

    Assuming it's his first offense? A fine. Some community service wouldn't be bad.
    I don't mean to be rude but seriously? Fines and community service are for shoplifters. This guy intentionally endangered the lives of every single person on the planes he hit. And it's not his first offense - several pilots have reported seeing the laser upon trying to land.

    I'm sure he'll be made an example of though. What wonderful times we live in.
    I don't know about anyone else but I'm a lot more concerned about having my pilot being blinded while trying to land than about the civil liberties of some jerk.

  5. #4
    Member NJReds's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    Quote 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
    STAFF WRITERS


    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.

  6. #5
    You know his story Redsland's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    What lgj said.

    The guy undertook a criminal act endangering the lives of numerous innocent people. He pointed a blinding device at two pilots who were already flying toward the ground at 300 mph, and who had plenty of other tasks to manage at the same time. Then he did the same thing to helicopter pilots sent to locate him.

    Those lasers can blind people, and I don't mean temporarily. I know a teacher who suffered permanent damage to her eyes, and who must wear very dark glasses at all times. She even had to retire because she couldn't work anymore.

    So, at best, the criminal under discussion here endangered the livelihoods of three or more pilots. At worst, he's guilty of multiple counts of attempted murder and wanton destruction of perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars of private and government property. More depending on the type of helicopter involved and the value of whatever's in the flight path of that airport.

    A fine? Community service?

    EDIT: Thanks, NJRed, for clarifying the type of plane and number of passengers. I'll adjust my post accordingly.
    Last edited by Redsland; 01-05-2005 at 10:50 AM. Reason: Add'l facts and stoopid tipos.
    Makes all the routine posts.

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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    I was referring to the incident at O'Hare (that was a jet but with 30 people on it, I am just wrong all around). It doesn't sound like it was the same source though now. I haven't been in NJ for several days so I didn't see that story. Regardless of how many people are on board, it still is just an extraordinarily dangerous and reckless thing to do.

  8. #7
    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    As someone who lives along the flight path of a major runway at my city's busiest airport, I particularly like the idea of harsh punishments for anyone who goofs around with aircraft in flight.

    As for the punishment fitting the crime, this has the potential to be just as hazardous as the incidents involving drunken idiots who storm the cockpit. AFAIK, most of them get locked up.

    Besides, what an idiot this guy was to point his laser at the very helicopter that was out looking for the source of the laser.
    /r/reds

  9. #8
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    This was a criminal act, not an act of terrorism. The Patriot Act shouldn't come into play.

    Charge the man with multiple counts of reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, or even attempted murder. But don't start throwing the Patriot Act around for something like this.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Member NJReds's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Redsland
    EDIT: Thanks, NJRed, for clarifying the type of plane and number of passengers. I'll adjust my post accordingly.
    No problem. There have been some cases where commercial airliners have been targeted. And like you said, it doesn't really matter if there were 10 or 100 people aboard...it was a reckless and dangerous act.

  11. #10
    You know his story Redsland's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    I was thinking about an incident involving a commercial carrier some weeks ago, and I've looked back through the last two months or so of Aviation Week looking for a write-up, but no luck. I'm missing a few issues, though, due to the holidays.
    Makes all the routine posts.

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    Member NJReds's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    I was thinking about an incident involving a commercial carrier some weeks ago, and I've looked back through the last two months or so of Aviation Week looking for a write-up, but no luck. I'm missing a few issues, though, due to the holidays.
    I may be mistaken, but I think this guy in Parsippany is the first person ever caught doing this.

  13. #12
    You know his story Redsland's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    Yes, he is the first one caught, although there have been at least three other incidents involving lasers and aircraft on approach. Homeland Security and the FAA have both issued warnings on the matter, one to airports, the other to airlines. Terrorism is the obvious fear.
    Makes all the routine posts.

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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    I just looked up the story in the Star Ledger... this jacka$$ not only lied to the FBI about being behind the plane incident, but also get this... he blamed his 7 year old daughter for shining the laser.

    Jerseyan charged for pointing laser at aircraft
    Morris man denied, then admitted helicopter strike and Tetorboro plane hit
    Wednesday, January 05, 2005
    BY RUDY LARINI
    Star-Ledger Staff
    A Parsippany man who admitted shining a laser beam at a Port Authority police helicopter on New Year's Eve after first blaming his 7-year-old daughter has been charged with pointing the laser at a private plane approaching Teterboro Airport two nights earlier.

    David Banach, 38, is charged with two federal offenses -- violating a provision of the Patriot Act that makes it illegal to interfere with the operator of a mass transportation vehicle and lying to the FBI.

    Advertisement






    His arrest is the first in a recent rash of similar laser-pointing incidents across the country, according to an FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C.

    Banach's attorney, Gina Mendola-Longarzo, yesterday denied there was any "willful misconduct" on Banach's part, but would not say whether he intentionally aimed the laser at the aircraft. She also criticized federal authorities for using the Patriot Act to prosecute her client.

    "I would think they would want to devote their time and resources to real terrorists," she said.

    Federal authorities in New Jersey said Banach's arrest, while not related to any terrorist threat, demonstrates the federal government's commitment to investigate and prosecute incidents that threaten public safety.

    "We have to send a clear message to the public that there is no harmless mischief when it comes to airplanes," said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie. "Mr. Banach's actions as alleged in the criminal complaint put innocent lives at risk. That is illegal and unacceptable."

    Laser beams can temporarily blind or disorient pilots and possibly cause a plane to crash, especially during critical periods such as takeoffs or landings.

    "It is important that we do everything we possibly can to ensure the safety of our nation's air carriers," Joseph Billy Jr., special agent in charge of the New Jersey FBI office, said in announcing Banach's arrest. "While this particular incident was not terrorism-related, the FBI considers this an extremely serious matter as not only was the safety of the pilot and passengers placed in jeopardy by Banach's actions, (but) so were countless innocent victims on the ground in this densely populated area.

    "What was done was foolhardy and negligent," Billy added.

    Banach appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark yesterday and was released on bail of a $100,000 unsecured appearance bond, which requires no posting of cash or property. The pilot endangerment charge he faces is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Lying to the FBI carries a maximum five-year sentence and $250,000 fine.

    The stocky, blond Banach, accompanied yesterday by his wife, Allison, and Mendola-Longarzo, would only say "No comment" when approached by reporters and photographers as he left the courthouse.

    Mendola-Longarzo said Banach was "in a state of shock, frankly.

    "I think my client is a very sympathetic person," she added. "He's an average guy."

    Mendola-Longarzo said Banach works for a telecommunications and fiber optics firm in the Boonton area, but she did not know its name.

    The incident last Wednesday attracted widespread media coverage in this post-9/11 era of heightened aviation security.

    The pilot of a corporate Cessna Citation on approach to Teterboro Airport at 5:30 p.m. reported that a laser was aimed into his cockpit as he flew at an altitude of about 3,000 feet. The pilot safely landed the aircraft with 13 people aboard at Teterboro.

    In investigating the incident two days later, a Port Authority police helicopter with detectives and the Cessna's pilot aboard returned to the area where the pilot saw the laser beam Wednesday, authorities said. While circling above, the helicopter was the target of a laser beam and a crewman then shined a spotlight on the house where the beam originated.

    Police on the ground descended on the house and began questioning Banach, who initially said his 7-year-old daughter pointed the laser at the helicopter. Banach later admitted pointing the laser at the helicopter, but "adamantly denied" any involvement in the Teterboro incident.

    He then was taken to FBI headquarters, where he admitted he was responsible for both incidents after taking a polygraph examination and being questioned further.

    Banach purchased the green, cigar-sized Jasper laser on the Internet from a firm known as Bigha in Corvallis, Ore., according to company's marketing director, Noah Acres. The lasers can be used for recreational purposes, such as star-gazing, as a pointer for lectures and presentations or as a sight-lining tool in construction. They also can be mounted on firearms for aiming, he said.

    He said the Jasper has a power level of 3.5 milliwatts -- explaining that a milliwatt is one-thousandth of a watt -- but has a range of up to 25,000 feet because it is concentrated into a "tiny, precise beam."

    Acres said he was not concerned about any adverse impact on the laser business as a result of the rash of similar recent incidents involving lasers pointed at aircraft.

    "It is of concern to me that I sold something to somebody who didn't behave too well with it," he said. "Anybody acting irresponsibly with anything, whether it's a laser or a hammer, can cause trouble."

    Federal authorities are investigating recent reports of lasers aimed at aircraft in Chicago; Cleveland; Washington, D.C.; Houston; Colorado Springs, Colo., and Medford, Ore., but Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman in Washington, D.C., said he was not aware of any other arrests.

    The president of the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations yesterday criticized the government's response to the laser-aircraft incidents.

    "Pilots are deeply troubled that the lessons of 9/11 continue to go unheeded," Capt. Jon Safley said, noting that a November government warning on the possible use of lasers against aircraft by terrorists was not made available to the pilots until last week.

    "Pilots are very concerned about the apparent laser attacks on passenger airlines during the past several weeks, and even more concerned that they have not been given adequate warning about these incidents," Safley said. "We call on the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct an immediate review and to provide flight crews with advice on how to deal with this dangerous situation."



    Staff writer Ron Marsico contributed to this report.

  15. #14
    For a Level Playing Field RedFanAlways1966's Avatar
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

    I believe there was a commercial jet that had a laser pointed in the cockpit at John Hopkins Airport in Cleveland a couple of weeks ago.

    This guy deserves whatever he gets. Smart-guy should have checked the laws of this land before doing something so stupid. This was a very stupid thing for him to do. I think anyone with an ounce of sense would know that it is dangerous to do what he did. I am also sure that anyone with a high-tech laser like this knows that it can permantly damage the eyesight of a person.

    He'll probably get a slap on the wrist due to his clean record. I must say, "What wonderful times we live in when people think a punishment for shining lasers at pilots s/b minor. I doubt they'd feel that way if a relative was killed b/c dummy brought the plane down with his stupid-and-immature action."

    I would venture to guess that if anyone had a relative/friend on one of those planes, they would feel the same. It would make me want to take that high-tech laser and shove it where the laser don't shine in the dummy who did it. We have laws and maximum sentences for crimes in this country. Everyone in this country can check the laws and punishments of our country at their own freewill.
    Last edited by RedFanAlways1966; 01-05-2005 at 11:33 AM.
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    Re: Guy who lasered airplanes.. appropriate punishment?

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