Last week, the FAA announced that there were a record number of "laser events" in 2010. What the FAA means by that, there was a record number of idiots who think it's funny to potentially temporarily blind a pilot with a laser pointer or even some high-powered laser device
The FAA created a formal reporting system for laser events in 2005. Reports nearly double from 2009 to 2010, with 1,527 and 2,836 events, respectively. In the first year for formal reporting, 2005, there were only 300 events.
The top 10 airports in terms of laser events are:
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 102
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) 98
- Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) 80
- San Jose International Airport (SJC) 80
- McCarran International Airport (LAS) 72
- Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) 66
- Oakland International Airport (OAK) 55
- Honolulu International Airport (HNL) 47
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO) 39
- Denver International Airport (DEN) 38
Silicon Valley has 3 of those 10 airports, San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco. It just goes to show that being one of the world's tech centers doesn't mean you have a population with a high degree of intelligence, or perhaps more accurately, a high degree of common sense.
Planes are most vulnerable during takeoff and landing. That is, of course, also the "best time" to try to target them with lasers. The image above, from the website of Wicked Lasers
, shows an FAA flight simulator, with the laser 1,200 feet away, "showing veiling glare where it is hard to see through the light to the background scene."
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said,
"This is a serious safety issue. Lasers can distract and harm pilots who are working to get passengers safely to their destinations."