North Texas

Dallas Police Report Uptick in Laser Strikes

Dallas police confirm an uptick in the number of laser strikes against aircraft, saying they're now averaging two to three reports per week.

Hitting an aircraft with a laser is a federal offense punishable by prison or an $11,000 fine.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported three airplanes, including a Southwest Airlines passenger jet and two private airplanes, were hit by a green laser about four miles southeast of Dallas Thursday night.

And on Wednesday, three other planes were hit by a laser while on their way to Dallas Love Field.

"We have some concerns that it's going to cause an incident with an aircraft," said Dallas Police Sgt. Todd Limerick, who pilots the Air One helicopter. "You do not need pilots being distracted at those critical times."

Also Wednesday night, a helicopter for NBC New York was struck multiple times with a green laser.

Pilots in that case were able to pinpoint the origin, and the people believed to be responsible were taken into custody.

"It diffracts almost like a crystal effect. It covers the entire windscreen making it impossible for a pilot to see," Limerick said.

While the dangers for pilots center around temporary loss of vision, problems for people on the ground could be more long term.

Dr. Albert Pang is an optometrist with Trinity Eye Care in Plano. He said a laser to any part of the body, particularly the eye, can cause serious damage, similar to a sunburn on the eye. He also said green lasers have an especially higher energy and are more dangerous.

"I think the first thing is for parents to make sure kids do not play around with them," he said. "They do not know the danger and might hurt someone permanently."

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