Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Laser Pointers/Finders - Safety

Equipment
  • Please log in to reply
8 replies to this topic

#1 GJWS

GJWS

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 9
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2022
  • Loc: Rhode Island, USA

Posted 28 September 2022 - 08:06 PM

I found the forum has rules regarding discussion of lasers and power and a requirement to keep to low power in discussions and reviews - quoting FDA safety guidelines.  Yay!

--

I did search, didn't find and I am a newbie - if this has been covered elsewhere - apologies.  I'd like to share a different viewpoint than the FDA's.  Because I'm also a pilot.  And I'm not a newbie at that!

--

Laser strikes on aircraft at night are on the up.  Let's be charitable and suggest some of this is because the astronomy hobby is on the up and up.  More people are looking skywards.  Some of it is also jerks trying to pick off aircraft "for fun".  But none of those jerks are on here!!  wink.gif

 

--

 

Green laser pointers - and to a lesser extent red.  If you inadvertently hit an aircraft cockpit - the cockpit is immediately filled with intense and painful bright light.  From the tiniest of lasers.  Night vision goes out the window.  Eye damage sometimes occurs.  We all know how long it takes for your eyes to dark adapt.  5min for some adaption but 20 mins plus for full adaption.  If you have blown the night vision of the flight crew - it is going to be sometime before night vision is reacquired.  It is a safety of flight issue - as well as the fact you may have actually damaged someone's eyesight.

Let me say again - Laser strikes on planes at night are TRULY debilitating for pilots and a SERIOUS safety of flight issue.

 

I've had it happen to me.  I got very lucky and saw the light coming in along the wing and got my eyes tight shut.  It was still intensely painful.  And I happened to be hand flying at that moment - not on autopilot - and I had to hold on and hope that I stayed straight and level.  After about 30 secs your inner ears cannot detect slow rates of change and you can end up in a terminal dive and not know it.  My encounter lasted about 20 seconds and then the laser was gone.  I was still upright but could not see much.  I could at least get on illuminated cockpit instruments and stay upright till my night vision recovered.  We report laser strikes to air traffic control (ATC).  On the occasion I was hit - ATC had to create a 10 mile diameter bubble around my position and divert aircraft around it - to hopefully prevent any more strikes.

 

Those tiny green laser pointers can cause mayhem all the way up to 20,000ft – so you may not be aware you hit a plane.

Laser strikes on aircraft are a Federal offence with big fines and jail time.  But let’s skip the “big stick”.

 

Let’s just understand it is truly dangerous for the pilots and their passengers. Please be EXTREMELY careful when using laser pointers - even very low power ones.

 

This picture was taken just south of Chicago one night - JUST before my first laser strike (yeah - it's happened more than once to me).

 

Chicago.jpg

End of Sermon.  Thank you!


  • jcj380 and LU1AR like this

#2 Avgvstvs

Avgvstvs

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 818
  • Joined: 10 Jun 2020
  • Loc: Australia

Posted 28 September 2022 - 08:29 PM

You still have very lax laws about laser pointers. Here in Australia things are much stricter. I believe you need to obtain a licenece for anything over 5mW. There are clauses about astronomical use but i am unsure of the details. And it varies from state to state. I don't think anyone can claim astronomical use and accidentally target an aircraft. You know how hard it is to even find things in the sky unguided. Nice post, thanks


Edited by Avgvstvs, 28 September 2022 - 08:30 PM.


#3 Jehujones

Jehujones

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 962
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2021
  • Loc: Simi Valley, CA.

Posted 28 September 2022 - 08:52 PM

welcome.gif

 

You're preaching to the choir here but thanks for the reminder just the same.


  • SteveG likes this

#4 ausastronomer

ausastronomer

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,635
  • Joined: 30 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Shoalhaven Heads NSW (Australia)

Posted 28 September 2022 - 10:03 PM

You still have very lax laws about laser pointers. Here in Australia things are much stricter. I believe you need to obtain a licenece for anything over 5mW. There are clauses about astronomical use but i am unsure of the details. And it varies from state to state. I don't think anyone can claim astronomical use and accidentally target an aircraft. You know how hard it is to even find things in the sky unguided. Nice post, thanks

 

You actually need a permit or an "exemption" from a permit, for anything over 1mw.  Using the laser pointer for astronomy is grounds for an exemption to a permit but you need to demonstrate current financial membership of an astronomy Club.

 

I do a lot of outreach with schools and community groups and have a 5mw and 50mw green laser pointers.  I am also very aware of the dangers of laser pointers and make sure I don't use them anywhere near the vicinity of overhead aircraft.  I am fairly fortunate in that I live well out of Sydney and not anywhere near any commercial flight paths.  We do have the HMAS Albatross Air Base within reasonable proximity, but they rarely fly and night and when they do you can hear those aircraft or choppers very easily from a long way away.

 

It's generally not likely to be the astronomers who cause the problems with aircraft, but the cowboys who think they have a toy.

 

Cheers



#5 Steve C.

Steve C.

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,058
  • Joined: 24 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Sugar Land, TX

Posted 28 September 2022 - 11:59 PM

I found the forum has rules regarding discussion of lasers and power and a requirement to keep to low power in discussions and reviews - quoting FDA safety guidelines.  Yay!

--

I did search, didn't find and I am a newbie - if this has been covered elsewhere - apologies.  I'd like to share a different viewpoint than the FDA's.  Because I'm also a pilot.  And I'm not a newbie at that!

--

Laser strikes on aircraft at night are on the up.  Let's be charitable and suggest some of this is because the astronomy hobby is on the up and up.  More people are looking skywards.  Some of it is also jerks trying to pick off aircraft "for fun".  But none of those jerks are on here!!  wink.gif

 

--

 

Green laser pointers - and to a lesser extent red.  If you inadvertently hit an aircraft cockpit - the cockpit is immediately filled with intense and painful bright light.  From the tiniest of lasers.  Night vision goes out the window.  Eye damage sometimes occurs.  We all know how long it takes for your eyes to dark adapt.  5min for some adaption but 20 mins plus for full adaption.  If you have blown the night vision of the flight crew - it is going to be sometime before night vision is reacquired.  It is a safety of flight issue - as well as the fact you may have actually damaged someone's eyesight.

Let me say again - Laser strikes on planes at night are TRULY debilitating for pilots and a SERIOUS safety of flight issue.

 

I've had it happen to me.  I got very lucky and saw the light coming in along the wing and got my eyes tight shut.  It was still intensely painful.  And I happened to be hand flying at that moment - not on autopilot - and I had to hold on and hope that I stayed straight and level.  After about 30 secs your inner ears cannot detect slow rates of change and you can end up in a terminal dive and not know it.  My encounter lasted about 20 seconds and then the laser was gone.  I was still upright but could not see much.  I could at least get on illuminated cockpit instruments and stay upright till my night vision recovered.  We report laser strikes to air traffic control (ATC).  On the occasion I was hit - ATC had to create a 10 mile diameter bubble around my position and divert aircraft around it - to hopefully prevent any more strikes.

 

Those tiny green laser pointers can cause mayhem all the way up to 20,000ft – so you may not be aware you hit a plane.

Laser strikes on aircraft are a Federal offence with big fines and jail time.  But let’s skip the “big stick”.

 

Let’s just understand it is truly dangerous for the pilots and their passengers. Please be EXTREMELY careful when using laser pointers - even very low power ones.

 

This picture was taken just south of Chicago one night - JUST before my first laser strike (yeah - it's happened more than once to me).

 

attachicon.gifChicago.jpg

End of Sermon.  Thank you!

Out of curiosity, were you on final approach when this happened? Or otherwise in the landing pattern?  From what I understand, final is when it's actually easiest to tag an aircraft because you're on a steady glide path.

 

I agree that lasers are dangerous for aircraft safety, and anyone caught deliberately shining a laser on an aircraft should get the maximum penalty.
 



#6 SteveG

SteveG

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11,751
  • Joined: 27 Sep 2006
  • Loc: Seattle, WA

Posted 29 September 2022 - 12:36 AM

Also a pilot (23 years) and I use a laser every single night. My astronomy lasers are very dim, less than 5mw. I too was lased, about 2,000 ft over a city, by a laser that was far brighter than anything I use. I suspect that you were hit by an illegal laser, and the user aimed it at you. When I was hit,I didn’t find it painful, but was very startled by the green light in my cockpit.

 

I always add, if a user thinks there is any chance they could inadvertently hit an aircraft, then you shouldn’t be using a laser.



#7 clearwaterdave

clearwaterdave

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,272
  • Joined: 27 May 2014
  • Loc: Western Maine

Posted 29 September 2022 - 08:12 AM

To get a laser to hit a plane and light up the cockpit for even seconds needs definite intention. I do not believe the situation you described can occur by accident. A plane is moving how fast in one direction.,My laser is still or moving on its own course.,when those paths cross it is going to be an instant.,not 20 seconds of blinding light.,

  You need to find an Idiot's forum and post your story there.,Those of us here who use them have already heard all of the "potential" threats we pose., 

  If you're not sure if you're responsible enough to use one safely then please don't. Best2all 


  • SteveG, Mcloud and Jehujones like this

#8 jcj380

jcj380

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,187
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Out in the night, in the whispering breezes

Posted 29 September 2022 - 09:48 AM

Being near / under the approach and departure paths to KORD, KMDW, and KDPA, lasers are not an option for me.  I don't think they're illegal, but I don't want to take a chance on accidentally lighting up an aircraft, even briefly.



#9 MellonLake

MellonLake

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,361
  • Joined: 16 Dec 2018
  • Loc: Toronto, Canada

Posted 29 September 2022 - 12:41 PM

Its a $10,000 fine in Canada to be caught with a laser outside (even below 5mW) within 10km of an airport.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Equipment



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics