SJ police investigate laser incident at Mineta airport

September 3, 2012 11:31:31 AM PDT
Police and the FAA are investigating a dangerous incident at Mineta San Jose International Airport Sunday night. Officials say someone shined a potentially blinding laser into the cockpit of a plane on takeoff.

The flight in question was a Jet Blue flight, departing around 9:30 p.m. for Boston. The plane only got about three miles away, three miles southeast of the airport and 13,000 feet altitude, before the incident happened. The pilot reported a green light illuminating the cockpit of the plane; coming from, presumably, a laser on the ground.

ABC7 News talked to retired pilot Dwight Lubich in Los Altos who says it happened to him once, some 20 years ago in Las Vegas. Lubich says it's dangerous on two counts. One, it's bad for the eyesight, whether it would hit a passenger through the side windows, or the pilot through the cockpit. And of course, worst case scenario, it could incapacitate the pilot.

"Sick people out there, and uh, maybe they think it's just funny, or fun to see if they can spot the airplane and hit it," Lubich said. "But they don't really realize the danger of what they're doing."

The FAA reports 53 incidents of this happening at Mineta in 2011, and 20 incidents so far this year.

San Jose police say they are investigating this, noting that it is an ongoing problem for them. Fortunately in this case, the flight was able to continue on to its destination.


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