Friday, February 10, 2012

Laser shone at helicopter

A Taieri helicopter pilot has warned of the dangers of shining lasers at pilots, after he was targeted while flying over Mosgiel this week.

Kevin Gale, from Helicopters Otago, was flying around the Taieri circuit about 11.20pm on Wednesday on a training flight with an instructor when he noticed a bright green light. On looking at it, he was dazzled by a laser.

The flight was not affected, but it happened again on the pair's second circuit, after which they decided to turn back in the direction of the light to see if they could determine where it was coming from.

It appeared to be coming from the area of Ross and Murray Sts in Mosgiel.

Mr Gale reported it immediately to police but they were unable to determine the exact location of the people pointing the laser and police were unable to locate the offenders.

Shining a laser in the eyes of a pilot obviously had potential to cause a crash and could, if a pilot was wearing night vision goggles which magnified light, temporarily blind the pilot and damage the goggles, Mr Gale said.

He was not wearing night vision goggles at the time.

He said he had not had this problem with lasers before.

Two teenagers accused of shining a laser at the police Eagle helicopter in Auckland in May last year have opted this week to defend the allegation at trial.

The pair each face a charge of endangering an aircraft, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 months' jail or a fine of up to $10,000.

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