Dallas man charged for shining laser at police helicopter - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Dallas man charged for shining laser at police helicopter

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A Dallas man is facing charges, after reportedly admitting he pointed a laser at a Dallas Police helicopter and chopper pilots in Austin say it's happening to them too.

In Dallas, a police chopper pilot recently led officers on the ground to the man allegedly responsible for shining a laser into his cockpit.

This is dangerous because there is no auto-pilot feature when flying a helicopter.

Sr. CPL. Mark Colborn, a helicopter pilot with the Dallas Police, said, "When that light hits the windscreen, it amplifies sometimes...it can amplify sometimes almost 100 times."

Members of the Austin Police Department Air Support Unit say lives are being put at risk when people shine laser pointers into their cockpit.

They say it's happening more in Austin compared to other cities, with disturbances happening on a weekly basis sometimes.

They typically use night vision and binoculars while flying and the pilots say if they were to look directly at a laser beam, it could permanently cause them to go blind.

Ryan Miller, an officer with the Austin Police Department's Air Support Unit, said, "Say you're sitting in a dark room in a movie theater, watching a movie and somebody ran up and flashed a camera, a camera flash in your face. It's bright. It's distracting. You have to look away from the laser so you don't lose your night vision...It takes a few minutes to reorient yourself and be able to safely fly."

The laser pointers that emit a green light are the ones causing the danger. Their light spectrum is more intense and can actually reach an aircraft in the sky. So if you have one, please keep it indoors.

Travis County Star Flight reps say it's only happened to them once in about the last five years.

Also in Austin, a man is being prosecuted by federal authorities for a shining intense light into an aircraft in October 2011.

You can face charges even if the laser just hits part of the aircraft.

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