It was a close call this week for the crew of a Coast Guard jet. The aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing.
It seems someone on the ground shined a laser pointer at the plane, which is strictly illegal; and in fact, one crew member had to be rushed to a hospital.
Thankfully, he didn't suffer any permanent damage, but his vision was impaired hours after it happened.
Many people don't realize pointing a laser at any aircraft is a federal offense.
According to U.S. Coast Guard officials, it happened on Monday near Portland, just as a Guardian jet was about to land at the Corpus Christi International Airport. A green laser beam filled the cockpit, temporarily blinding one of the crew members.
"I'd compare it to looking at sun with a microscope," said Tony Armijo of the U.S. Coast Guard. "It's an extremely bright light. If I would have been flying the plane, I would have been incapacitated."
The Coast Guard reports that this was the third time someone has pointed a laser at one of their aircraft since June. It has happened to the Navy twice. That is five times in the past five months, and it is much more serious than some people think. It can not only cause permanent damage to the pilot's or crew members' eyes, but it can prevent the pilot from being able to see, and that could cost lives.
The FBI is investigating the incident, and the person responsible could face up to five years in prison and pay a fine of up to $25,000.
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