Laser strikes against airplanes now an "epidemic," says FBI
Laser Pointer Attacks Taking Off: Pose Serious Threat to Aviation Security
The number of laser attacks in the U.S. is on the rise. Incidents are projected to reach 3,700 this year—compared to just 283 in 2005. That’s a rise of more than 1,100 percent. And that doesn’t include the thousands of attacks that go unreported every year.
George Johnson, a supervisory federal air marshal who is a liaison officer with the FBI, says the number of attacks is almost reaching an “epidemic level.”
On the night of December 8, 2007, Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Timothy Riley and State Trooper Michael Basteri were flying a helicopter over Boston Harbor. It was about 9:30pm and they were escorting a tanker carrying liquid natural gas. The chopper hovered over the Mystic River somewhere between the Distrigas facility in Everett and the Tobin Bridge.
Suddenly Trooper Basteri saw the laser—a powerful green beam coming from the shore. It snaked across the water and up towards the helicopter's cockpit. Basteri warned Riley that the blast of light was imminent, and warned him not to look at it.
Riley in turn quickly struggled to bank the copter to the right so the beam wouldn't penetrate the vehicle. But the concentrated stream moved too fast. "When the laser beam reached the helicopter it immediately filled the cockpit with an intense bright green light unlike anything either man had experienced before," the affidavit said.
After the beam left their vehicle, Riley and Basteri began trying to track it down. To their alarm, it started shining on landing paths at Logan Airport. They called Logan Airport Tower to alert air traffic control, then received permission from their command to leave the tanker and locate the origin of the threat.