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Oakland Airport ranks fourth in “laser strikes”

on August 26, 2010

What happens when you shine a high-powered laser pointer at a plane cruising through the sky? Well, you can disorient the pilot, and according to the San Jose Mercury News, it happens so often that there’s a name for it: “laser strikes.” In fact, Oakland Airport ranks fourth in the nation in incidents of laser strikes, and San Jose Airport comes in fifth.

There haven’t been any crashes caused by laster strikes, but some incidents during landings have forced pilots to have to abort the procedure and try again. Powerful laser pointer beams can also injure people’s eyes. One military pilot whose craft was struck had to stop flying for six months while his eyes recovered.

Laser strikes appear to be on the rise: there were over 900 strikes on commercial aircraft in 2008 and nearly 1,500 in 2009. This year, there have already been 1,251. About a third of the incidents nationwide are reported in California.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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