Recklessly Shining Lasers At Pilots
It is 'only a matter of time' before an aviation disaster is caused by people recklessly shining lasers at pilots.
The warning comes from Devon and Cornwall officers from the Air Operations Unit based at HQ in Exeter after the first person was prosecuted under laws The Air Operations unit have released helicopter footage on YouTube of the incident in which a 19-year-old man is shown targeting the Force helicopter.
The dazzle and distraction from the laser forced the pilot to abandon a search for a missing vulnerable man in Torquay.
The teenager was aiming multiple laser flashes at the helicopter.
Captain Richard Tate had to concentrate on maintaining control of the helicopter which was hovering over a residential area at approximately 2,000ft at night.
Once the aircraft was confirmed as being safe, the laser light was followed to its source by the air crew and a man identified on the helicopter's thermal image camera.
A watch was kept on the man and a local officer on the ground was directed to his position by the police officers on the helicopter.
The man appeared before Torquay Magistrates Court on August 16th.
He was convicted and received a fine of £250 and was ordered to pay £100 in costs and victim charges.
The court also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the laser. Officers from the Air Operations Unit say this is a growing problem both locally and nationally.
Last Thursday evening the Force helicopter pilot was targeted again by someone shining a laser at the aircraft as it hovered over Torquay.
One Force Air Operations crew estimate they have been affected 20 times in the last six months.
The majority of these are over urban areas particularly Plymouth and Torquay.