Lasers pointed at airplanes cause danger to everyone onboard - KCTV5

Lasers pointed at airplanes cause danger to everyone onboard

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A trend taking aim in the sky is putting pilots and flight crews of all types on alert after the FBI reported a spike in laser strikes against aircrafts. A trend taking aim in the sky is putting pilots and flight crews of all types on alert after the FBI reported a spike in laser strikes against aircrafts.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A trend taking aim in the sky is putting pilots and flight crews of all types on alert after the FBI reported a spike in laser strikes against aircrafts.

Angie Cunningham, Children’s Mercy Hospital’s transport outreach coordinator, says it has affected emergency medical helicopters in the Kansas City area.

"It's very, very worrisome in that even in our region, in the local area we know we've had somewhere between four and six laser strikes to aircrafts around here in the last year - so in 2015 alone," Cunningham said.

Cunningham, a veteran transport nurse, has worked countless miles of travel with the sickest and youngest patients in the region.  She says laser strikes happen for various reason.

"One mother was letting her children play with it and made the comment 'I told them to shine it only into the sky so they wouldn't hurt anyone's eyes'," Cunningham explained.

But they are hitting dangerous targets like commercial airplanes and medical helicopters. The laser can cause temporary and permanent damage to the eyes, depending on the laser pointer’s wattage.

"It's when you start getting into 20, 50, 100 milli-watt lasers and laser pointers, those are the ones that can really pose a problem," Dr. Nelson Sabates of Sabates Eye Center said.

Sabates regularly sees pilots who require perfect vision to keep their jobs.  Though he says he rarely sees pilots come in with damage from laser pointers, it can still be a dangerous situation up in the air.

"Let's say you're driving down the road and you get this flash, you could veer off the road. Now it will come back in 10 seconds, 15 seconds, but that may be enough time to cause an issue," Sabates said.

The FBI reports laser strikes against pilots happened 17,000 times over the past decade. An increase in the crime now means the offense is considered a felony with up to five years in prison.

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