SOLANO COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Pilots have long complained about people who use lasers on the ground and point them at planes.
It’s clearly a safety problem for anyone on the aircraft and potentially those on the ground.
On Monday night, another one of the laser incidents happened in the Bay Area, and authorities found the person who they believe was shining the laser.
A blue laser was being shined at the cockpit of a plane Monday night near Travis Air Force Base, but this was not just any plane, it was a single-engine Gipps Airvan operated by the California Highway Patrol.
“It’s disorienting because of the level of brightness, you’re talking about, you know, the level of brightness in the sun, but in a blue tone,” Officer Jan Sears said.
Luckily, the autopilot was engaged so the aircraft remained steady.
Pilot Jan Sears immediately put on a pair of laser goggles, while the other officer used the planes onboard infrared camera to track down the location of the person shining the laser.
“On our monitor inside the aircraft with the infrared camera, we’re able to sort of start searching for the guy, waiting for him to hit us again. Not only did he do it again, but about 15 more times, so he was very interested in us,” Sears said.
Within three minutes, the CHP had tracked the laser’s location.
They contacted Solano County Sheriff’s deputies and within 25 minutes, the 33-year-old man, Christopher Larsen, was under arrest.
“The fact that he’s taken into custody means that other people will be safe that are operating within the airspace and that’s, safety and service, that’s our job and if we can do it in the air, we will do it in the air as well,” Sears said.
The CHP also says within the last week, several military planes at Travis Air Force Base have been hit with a blue laser but it is unclear if those incidents are tied to this one.
“I would say that the odds of someone else in the exact same neighborhood having a blue laser and pointing it at an aircraft is pretty slim,” Sears said.
The CHP says these types of incidents are on the upswing, as for the suspect, he could face both federal and state charges.
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