FBI launches national campaign to fight laser threat to aircrafts

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)-A crackdown on the ground could keep you safer in the air.

The FBI is now expanding a program to go after people who point lasers at planes.

24-Hour News 8 talked to a retired State Police pilot who said having a laser pointed at the air is like flying blind in the sky.

“I think it’s a good campaign; it needs to be done,” said Richard Cool.

Cool is talking about the FBI’s national campaign to protect aircraft from lasers. Cool is a retired Indiana State Police pilot and now flies for Lifeline. He said lasing happens too much around country.

“It’s not uncommon to hear about it and it should be,” he said.

According to the FBI, already this year there have been 19 laser strikes in Indianapolis.

In FBI simulated video released to 24 Hour News 8, it showed someone pointing a green laser at a plane. The video also showed how distracting the laser is to the pilots in the cockpit.

“The effect of the laser light is more effective during dark hours,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Kevin Lyons, “The FBI considers this very, very dangerous. Not only to the pilot and the people aboard the aircraft, but also the people on the ground.”

Cool said while flying for Indiana State Police over Seymour several years ago, someone pointed a laser at his helicopter.

“It was about 2 o’clock in the morning, there was a bright light shining on the side of the aircraft and I thought it was the position light,’It was an extremely bright green light,'” said Cool.

Cool said the laser illuminated the cockpit nearly blinding him and his co-pilot.

“I did not have any injury with that, nor did the flight officer that was with me, but the distraction that I thought there was another aircraft next to me caused a lot of problems,” he said.

And that’s what the FBI is trying to prevent.

“The FBI is offering up to a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest of any individual involved in any type of lasing crimes,” Lyons said.

The FBI told 24-Hour News 8 that Indianapolis had a total of 44 laser strike incidents in 2012. That number went up to 65 in 2013.

Anyone with information about lasing incidents, call the Indianapolis FBI at 317-595-4000.

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