A commercial airliner flying over the Lancaster City area of the Antelope Valley Thursday night, Sept. 3, reported to air traffic controllers that their cockpit was illuminated several times by a powerful green laser light. The situation created a potentially dangerous and challenging situation for the pilot, and was reported to have caused temporary visual impairment.
Photos: Law Enforcement Airborne Platform System (LEAPS)
The concerned pilot notified air traffic controllers of the incident, who then notified the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. Station dispatchers relayed the information to the pilot of the Law Enforcement Airborne Platform System (LEAPS), a fixed wing airplane, who is assigned to aerial patrol in the city of Lancaster.
The LEAPS airplane, provided by the city of Lancaster and the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, enhances community protection and public safety. It is used to assist field deputies in coordinating calls for service and responding to emergencies, and can provide critical and timely information to patrol deputies on the ground.
The LEAPS pilot began immediately searching for the source of the obstruction and spotted the green laser light. Almost immediately, the cockpit of the LEAPS airplane was illuminated several times with the powerful light, causing distraction and temporary visual impairment to the pilot.
The pilot directed Lancaster Sheriff’s Station patrol units to the area on the ground where the light was emanating from. The patrol deputies converged on the area and began checking the neighborhood.
The subsequent investigation by the deputies on the ground led to a residence in the 42000 block of 30th Street East where a 27-year old male, and resident of Lancaster, was detained. After further investigation, he was ultimately arrested on a charges of discharging a laser at an aircraft, 247.5 PC California Penal Code. He is being held at Lancaster Sheriff’s Station in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.
Deputies recovered a high-powered laser pointing device at the scene.
If you see someone point a laser at an aircraft, Call 9-1-1. You could save the lives of the flight crew and also the people on the ground.