Laser pointers aimed at 2 flights over Atlanta area - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Laser pointers aimed at 2 flights over Atlanta area

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BARTOW COUNTY, Ga. -

Federal and local authorities are investigating after laser pointers were aimed at flights over the Atlanta area.

Investigators say this past weekend there were two incidents.

An emergency operator in Bartow County received a call from the FAA reporting a green laser being pointed at an AirTran flight from Las Vegas to Atlanta.

The pilot said that as the jet approached Hartsfield-Jackson on Saturday night, he saw steady and flashing green beams of light illuminating the cockpit.

"It could have been a prank, it could have been juveniles, it could have been somebody with a hunting laser device on a weapon, who knows? We don't know the position of the aircraft at the time the laser was pointed at it," said Sgt. Jonathan Rogers of the Bartow County Sheriff's Office.
 
Authorities report there have been more than 2,000 such incidents nationwide this year, with 18 in the Atlanta area and six more in other parts of north Georgia.

The FAA says it was the second such incident in north Georgia in as many days. On Friday, someone on the ground pointed one at a Piper twin engine craft in Gainesville.

No injuries were reported in either incident, but federal authorities tell FOX 5 that similar occurrences have become more common, forcing them to increase criminal and civil penalties.

Ricky Smith, a chief pilot with Phoenix Air, said the public should not be too concerned because pilots undergo training to counteract the lasers.

 "Don't look out, if the green laser illuminates the cockpit, don't look into the laser and then you've eliminated the possibility of having it in your eye," said Ricky Smith, a chief pilot with Phoenix Air.

But he adds that the devices can be a distraction.

"It could be some difficulty if it was a small airplane with a single pilot and just by blind luck the laser happened to get in one or both of his eyes.  It could create night vision problems and problems with seeing the instruments," said Smith.

The FAA says fines can go up to $11,000 in such instances.

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