Hugh Pickens writes:
The FBI has announced that they are expanding their campaign nationwide aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft-by rewarding those who provide information about individuals who engage in this dangerous crime and aggressively prosecuting the perpetrators. A key part of the publicity campaign is reward money. The FBI will offer up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of any individual who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. "We want to encourage people to come forward when they see someone committing this crime, which could have terrible consequences for pilots and their passengers," says George Johnson.
Since the FBI and the FAA began tracking laser strikes in 2005, there has been more than a 1,100 percent increase in the number of incidents with these devices, which can be purchased in stores or online for as little as a few dollars. Last year, 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft were reported. It is estimated that thousands of attacks go unreported every year. In March a 26-year-old California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter and a hospital emergency transport helicopter. The man and his girlfriend were using a device that was 13 times more powerful than the permissible power emission level for handheld lasers. The girlfriend was also convicted and recently sentenced to a two-year prison term.
It's been a while since we started hearing about this problem on the news and laws started getting passed. So, what I wonder is how common was this before airport officials/pilots/authorities started talking about it? Even if some 'prankster' did think to do it now and then if the plane didn't crash and it never made the news how many times would they repeat? They would assume that nothing happened! There would be no satisfaction, no reason to try it again.
I think all this publicity has got to also be the cause of most of the problem. How about a $10,000 reward for identifying the culpurits who publicized it?