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.

Damon Chetson - 1008 posts

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.

Federal Criminal Law