There are certain actions in the society that one would think common sense dictates you just do not do those things. Like yelling “fire” in a theater, “bomb” in an airport etc. Unless those things are actually happening. Don’t bring anything gun shaped into a school. You know, common sense. But this Clearwater Florida man is clearly lacking in common sense. He decides to shine a laser at aircraft. In this case, it was a Pinellas County Sheriff’s helicopter.
Just like Mikey and Big Bob of the Freak show:
“It is time to travel to the sunshine state. Yes, it happened again. IT’S ANOTHER FLORIDA STORY!”
So Brian Harding allegedly shined a laser at a sheriff helicopter. He used a red laser and in the video above, claims he did not know it was illegal. Yes, it is absolutely illegal. This story just happened last month. We have technology that grants us immediate information in a portable supercomputer that fits in our hands and pockets. All he had to do was google “shining laser at aircraft” and he would immediately know that it is illegal.
The problem is that lasers can damage the eyes. This is why lasers are regulated by the FDA instead of ATF. Lasers are concentrated light and if they are powerful enough they can damage the eye and make you or someone else blind. Visible lasers are typically brighter than IR lasers due to blink response. If someone shines a bright laser at you, you have a natural response to blink or close your eyes. However since IR light and lasers are undetectable by human eyes, it is easier to damage them. Since you cannot see the light, your eyes won’t try and save themselves by telling your brain to close your eyelids. If you look at civilian rated IR lasers they are only 0.7mw. But civilian rated visible lasers are much brighter.
What I found extremely interesting is the thermal technology used by the Sheriff’s helicopter. The resolution is phenomenal. It appears to have a digital GPS overlay that provides the house numbers and street names so they know what address the perp was at when he shined the laser at the helicopter.
You can see this in the video below.
What would have happened if he used an IR laser? Doubtful the pilots would have seen it unless they are flying with night vision.
Here is another example of an ignorant child that thought shining a laser at a helicopter would be a good idea.
Even in Canada, you can’t get away from helicopter pilots equipped with thermal vision.
If you have lasers, don’t be an idiot. It is not illegal to shine a laser into the sky. Astronomers use them to point out constellations and interesting features in the sky. But it is universally illegal to shine a laser at aircraft, so don’t do that.