Tonight I was flying into Raleigh in my Piper Cherokee 140 when a call came in over the radio that someone on the ground was pointing an unauthorized laser at airplanes flying into RDU, apparently in an effort to distract pilots, or create a nuisance.

Here is a recording of the call made by a commercial airline pilot who spotted the laser.

While most major airplanes have sophisticated equipment that would make it almost impossible to truly create a danger, smaller aircraft, like mine, are being hand flown by pilots without the benefit of autopilots. Shining laser lights can disorient pilots, creating a hazard not only to the plane, but to people on the ground if the plane should crash.

18 USC Sec. 39A makes it a crime to laser an aircraft, without some exception (such as an emergency condition), and punishable up to five years in prison.