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#1
Old 07-02-2018, 03:24 PM
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Blinding Aircraft Pilots With Laser Pointers (Don't Need Answer Fast)

Can any laser pointer blind any aircraft pilot? Like, can the little 5mw jobber I have really blind a Southwest pilot 32k feet above me? Of is this more of a concern for low-flying aircraft and/or really high-powered weapons-grade laser pointers?

Last edited by HeyHomie; 07-02-2018 at 03:25 PM.
#2
Old 07-02-2018, 03:43 PM
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Short answer, not really. Long answer, it's still dangerous and stupid so don't do it.

Enjoy,
Steven
#3
Old 07-03-2018, 11:01 AM
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1. Cockpit glass is on the top half of the plane. You might be able to paint a plane w/ a laser pointer 32m feet up, but you're not going to be able to get that laser into the cockpit.

2. The plane is probably on autopilot at that point, pilot isn't 'actively' flying the plane then.

3. Even if you were able to catch the perfect angle to bounce a laser off another plane & into the cockpit & the pilot was hand flying the plane there's thousands of feet below it for the pilot to recover before the plane hits anything.


It's really only an issue for low-flying aircraft. Because most people can't judge distance w/o any reference it's safer to say never do it than something like only do it to aircraft, say, 3000' AGL.
#4
Old 07-03-2018, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiderman View Post
... it's safer to say never do it than something like only do it to aircraft, say, 3000' AGL.
... because some people would have a valid reason to lase an aircraft?
#5
Old 07-03-2018, 01:11 PM
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I'm a pilot. If I get hit with a laser, it will immediately be reported to ATC and I'll try my best to pinpoint its location on the ground (because ATC will ask). A few pilots have suffered permanent eye damage from lasers and it is a federal crime. Don't even think about doing it.

https://livescience.com/21707-la...ye-damage.html

Last edited by Desert Nomad; 07-03-2018 at 01:16 PM.
#6
Old 07-03-2018, 01:29 PM
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And the feds aren't messing around with this stuff. It's not just a small fine. You will go to prison for years.

http://laserpointersafety.com/se...9d695-108.html
#7
Old 07-03-2018, 11:46 PM
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Yup, don't don't don't do it.

It's a problem for military pilots, too: http://thehill.com/policy/defense/38...lots-in-africa
#8
Old 07-04-2018, 02:51 AM
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Well but I was just trying to bounce my cat-toy laser off the moon. Not my fault a helicopter flew into its path.
#9
Old 07-04-2018, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiderman View Post
1. Cockpit glass is on the top half of the plane. You might be able to paint a plane w/ a laser pointer 32m feet up, but you're not going to be able to get that laser into the cockpit.

2. The plane is probably on autopilot at that point, pilot isn't 'actively' flying the plane then.

3. Even if you were able to catch the perfect angle to bounce a laser off another plane & into the cockpit & the pilot was hand flying the plane there's thousands of feet below it for the pilot to recover before the plane hits anything.


It's really only an issue for low-flying aircraft. Because most people can't judge distance w/o any reference it's safer to say never do it than something like only do it to aircraft, say, 3000' AGL.
This is not true at all. If a pilot can see the ground then the ground and anything on it can "see" the pilot. I've had plenty of laser flashes while cruising at 30,000ish feet. What is quite amusing is when you report it and a police helicopter is dispatched to investigate and the drongo with the laser decides to point it at the helicopter .
#10
Old 07-05-2018, 04:53 AM
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The other half of the question was "5mW".

Can you see a 5mw "laser pointer" ?
#11
Old 07-05-2018, 04:55 AM
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I can't answer that because I don't get to find out what kind of laser was pointed at me.
#12
Old 07-05-2018, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
This is not true at all. If a pilot can see the ground then the ground and anything on it can "see" the pilot. I've had plenty of laser flashes while cruising at 30,000ish feet. What is quite amusing is when you report it and a police helicopter is dispatched to investigate and the drongo with the laser decides to point it at the helicopter .
Now I'm curious as to how this works in actual practice.
If you are at 30000 feet then that's almost 6 miles up, with a line of sight being likely closer to 8 miles at the angles visible from the cockpit.
I can't imagine successfully pointing anything at a cockpit-sized target a mile off, much less 8 miles off. How do they do it?

If the beam spreads out enough to allow aiming at such a distant target, then the strength ought to be quite weak at the receiving end.

What does it look like when you get a laser flash at 30k feet? Is it just a quick flash of light from some distinct little spot on the ground, like a signal mirror, or is it a blinding fill-your-eyesight event?
#13
Old 07-05-2018, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
What does it look like when you get a laser flash at 30k feet? Is it just a quick flash of light from some distinct little spot on the ground, like a signal mirror, or is it a blinding fill-your-eyesight event?
There's a few examples on YouTube. The problem isn't with aircraft at 30,000 ft, it's with aircraft at low altitude on landing and takeoffs.
#14
Old 07-05-2018, 08:54 AM
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In one of his novels, Tom Clancy has U.S. spies using a specially-developed, very powerful handheld laser to purposefully blind enemy pilots on takeoff and landing, causing the crashes of several military aircraft.
#15
Old 07-05-2018, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dorjän View Post
There's a few examples on YouTube. The problem isn't with aircraft at 30,000 ft, it's with aircraft at low altitude on landing and takeoffs.
Indeed. My question though was related to Richard Pearse's comment about having seen laser flashes at around 30,000 feet.
#16
Old 07-05-2018, 11:39 AM
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FWIW... Chinese actors have been accused of injuring US military pilots in Africa and the South’s China Sea, resulting in a demarche (the most serious form of international complaint.)

https://cnn.com/2018/05/03/polit...ica/index.html

https://japantimes.co.jp/news/20.../#.Wz5JIBZOmaM

http://ibtimes.com/us-military-p...ttacks-2693548

I suspect we will eventually see a world where all military personnel wear Rift-style headsets and cameras to protect against blinding lasers.

Last edited by JB99; 07-05-2018 at 11:41 AM.
#17
Old 07-05-2018, 04:09 PM
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IIRC the HeNe laser we used in high school science lab was 0.5mW. Just as a matter of fact, you can look directly into it without injury. The saving grace of a laser pointer is most likely that an LED laser has a decent spread and won't be anywhere near full beam at aircraft altitudes (hundreds of feet plus). But that's in general - get stronger or better laser, low flying police helicopter, and things could be serious.
#18
Old 07-05-2018, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
Now I'm curious as to how this works in actual practice.
If you are at 30000 feet then that's almost 6 miles up, with a line of sight being likely closer to 8 miles at the angles visible from the cockpit.
I can't imagine successfully pointing anything at a cockpit-sized target a mile off, much less 8 miles off. How do they do it?

If the beam spreads out enough to allow aiming at such a distant target, then the strength ought to be quite weak at the receiving end.

What does it look like when you get a laser flash at 30k feet? Is it just a quick flash of light from some distinct little spot on the ground, like a signal mirror, or is it a blinding fill-your-eyesight event?
A green flash of light. Distracting, not blinding. It doesn’t have to be pointed at you constantly, it’s not like you are aiming a rifle with the intent of getting a single projectile to hit a tiny object, you just point it as best as you can and you’re likely to paint the target a few times.
#19
Old 07-05-2018, 06:53 PM
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Outside of the (don't put others life at risk) that was captured above.

Be very very careful with the Green Lasers, especially the cheap ones.

Remember that green lasers are converting a much more energetic, and more dangerous 1064 nm frequency into a much lower power green light. Any leakage, damage or poor design may result in very dangerous, invisible but blinding light.

https://nist.gov/news-events/new...infrared-power

4W of 1064 nm is more then enough to cause permanent damage.

Last edited by rat avatar; 07-05-2018 at 06:54 PM.
#20
Old 07-06-2018, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
Now I'm curious as to how this works in actual practice.
If you are at 30000 feet then that's almost 6 miles up, with a line of sight being likely closer to 8 miles at the angles visible from the cockpit.
I can't imagine successfully pointing anything at a cockpit-sized target a mile off, much less 8 miles off. How do they do it?

If the beam spreads out enough to allow aiming at such a distant target, then the strength ought to be quite weak at the receiving end.

What does it look like when you get a laser flash at 30k feet? Is it just a quick flash of light from some distinct little spot on the ground, like a signal mirror, or is it a blinding fill-your-eyesight event?
I was lased several times over the course of several deployments, and multiple flights over Iraq, Afghanistan, and some other places. The majority of the instances were while I was in the Air Refueling Operator (ARO) station on the KC-10, looking down at a receiver aircraft through the ARO sighting window, which faces down and back. The others were while I was in the cockpit, in the left side crew seat just behind the pilot. All instances were more than 10k' AGL.

Several times it was just a mild green pin-point flash that was pointed in our general direction. A few times it was a strong green pin-point that tracked us pretty well. Twice it was a REALLY bright green light that illuminated the entire ARO for a few seconds, and left an afterimage in my eyes for several seconds afterwards. Once, the Intel folks let me know about a week after I reported a lasing incident (one of the minor ones) that it had been tracked back to a bored Army infantryman, goofing off with the laser sight on his rifle.
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