Laser Strike Interrupts Coast Guard Training, Endangers Crews

Local Coast Guard crews received a scare Monday night when two helicopter crews were targeted by a person using a green laser pointer near Richmond Hills.

Luckily, no crewmembers aboard the helicopters were injured.

The crew, based out of the Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, were training and noticed that there was a green laser trying to track their flight path.

After attempting to redirect around a direct laser strike, they were still hit by the laser. The mission had to be aborted and both aircraft returned to the base.

No additional incidents or damage was done to the aircraft.

Now, Air Station Savannah is working with local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration to figure out the parties involved and prevent any future incidents.

“Aircraft lasing is a serious problem that aircrews face, unfortunately, all too often,” said Cmdr. Louie Parks, executive officer of Air Station Savannah. “These incidents not only interrupt critical training and operations, they put our crewmembers’ lives in serious danger.”

Laser strikes to the eye can limit crewmembers abilities to safely and properly operate the aircraft.

Direct hits can cause glaring, temporary loss of night vision, flash blindness and even permanent eye damage.

“If a laser strikes an aircraft during a critical life-saving mission, it can seriously degrade our abilities to execute the case and save lives,” said Lt. Trent Meyers, a pilot at Air Station Savannah. “We urge the public to exercise care when using lasers and to not point them at any aircraft.”

Targeting aircraft with a laser is not only dangerous to the aircraft and aircrew but a federal crime and violates Georgia state law.

Federal law can sentence a person(s) found guilty of this crime with up to five years in jail.

Anyone witnessing this crime is strongly encouraged to immediately call 911 to report the incident.

 

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