Apparently, between 5:00 and 5:20 p.m., 3 news choppers who had been employed by WABC, CBS New York and WNBC were hit by blinding lights coming from lasers, as they were hovering over the scene of an incident, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
In addition, 3 airplanes which were heading to Dallas Love Field experienced the same issue, between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m.
The incident in New York was quickly addressed by authorities, and the helicopters managed to achieve a safe landing. Fortunately, NYPD Air Support Units had also been present, and they identified the source of the laser beams, thanks to a reporter who zoomed his camera on the neighborhood.
The disruptive lights had come from behind a building in Prospect Heights, where 2 people were eventually arrested. A third individual who had been an accomplice to this crime was also apprehended in New Jersey.
Law enforcement is currently looking into the incident, and so far one of the culprits, 20-year old Ossieo Silva, has been accused of reckless endangerment in the second degree (as a class A misdemeanor) and in the first degree (as a class D felony).
It is expected that other charges will laid against the other 2 perpetrators who have been taken into custody.
Meanwhile, in Texas, an investigation using a police helicopter has also been launched, but so far no suspects have been arrested. In fact, little is known about the source of the laser attack, aside from the fact that it was located approximately 11 miles southeast of Dallas.
The aircraft whose flight was disrupted were a private business jet, and two airplanes, one operated by Virgin America, and the other one by Southwest Airlines.
They had been floating through the sky at altitudes ranging between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, when laser beams hampered the pilots’ vision, but luckily there were no injuries and the planes landed without any complications.
This isn’t the first time that lasers have distracted flight crew in the United States. In fact, it appears that the number of such attacks has been growing significantly in the last decade, as the gadgets became more affordable and popular.
While 283 incidents were reported in 2005, there were 3,894 in 2014. Also, 5,148 such occurrences were identified this year, between January 1, and October 9, and if current trends continue this would mean a 176% rise since 2014.
According to a law signed by President Obama in 2012, directing laser beams at aircraft is a federal crime, punishable with up to 20 years in prison, and $250,000 fines.
This is because risks associated with such attacks are enormous, for the flight crew, and for passengers likewise. Planes can be destabilized, as light inundates the cockpit, and disorients pilots, leaving them temporarily blind.
Especially in critical moments like when the plane is preparing for landing, having to face such issues can even cause the aircraft to crash, as maneuvers can no longer be executed accurately.
Moreover, laser beams which directly hit pilots’ eyes can burn their cornea, thus resulting in severe injuries requiring hospitalization.
Image Source: Network World