News choppers, airliners among over 20 aircraft hit by lasers
More than 20 aircraft were reportedly struck from the ground by lasers while flying over U.S. cities on Wednesday, the Federal Administration said in a newly released statement.
Among the aircraft struck by lasers was a helicopter from CBS New York's news team which was flying over a scene in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Pilot Joe Biermann saw a green laser bounce around several times inside the cockpit.
An NYPD helicopter responded.
"When we were looking there, we got lasered," Biermann said. "(At the same time), the NYPD was right next to us, so they hovered above the place."
The pilots for news choppers from two other New York stations - WNBC-TV and WABC-TV -- also reported laser strikes Wednesday evening, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The WNBC helicopter was hit around 5 p.m. near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and close to where the CBS New York aircraft 2 was hovering at the time, while the WABC helicopter was near Newark Liberty International Airport around 5:20 p.m. when its helicopter was struck, the FAA said.
The WNBC pilot notified the tower at LaGuardia Airport, who in turn notified the NYPD Aviation Unit, police said. Police traced the laser to the rear of a building in Brooklyn, where two people were taken into custody, police said.
A third person was taken into custody in New Jersey, WCBS radio reported.
Charges were pending and the investigation was ongoing, police said.
Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime, punishable by thousands of dollars in fines or even prison time. Last year, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Twelve flight crews reported being hit by laser beams over the area in one night in July. Five more flight crews reported similar incidents six days later.
Separately, the FAA said three different planes were hit by a laser beam coming from an area near Dallas.
FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the incidents happened Wednesday evening. A Southwest Airlines plane, Virgin America plane and private business jet were affected. All three were inbound to Dallas Love Field. Both airliners were coming from Austin.
No problems were reported with the flights and no one was hurt, reports CBS Dallas.
Lunsford says the laser came from an area 11 miles southeast of Dallas. He says a law enforcement helicopter was sent to investigate.
He says the planes were at altitudes of between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.
An FBI campaign last year targeted the illegal use of laser pointers to distract airplanes. Authorities said at the time that instances of the crime had increased significantly since 2005, when federal officials first started keeping statistics.
The FAA says so far this year, there have been more than 5,000 reports of aircraft hit by lasers across the country.
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