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August 27, 2010

Coast Guard Chopper Forced to Land After Pilots Flashed with Laser

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Written by: BNO News
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US Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopters

Two Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Miami fly in formation over the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by PAC Dana Warr/US Coast Guard)

A Coast Guard MH-65C Dolphin helicopter in California was forced to make a precautionary landing Thursday night at their hangar after someone illuminated the crew with a laser, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday.

The aircrew was flashed with a laser that affected their vision while conducting flight operations over Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro, California Thursday night at about 9 p.m local time. This is the second time this has happened in less than a week

Coast Guard flight rules dictate that if any aircrew member’s vision is compromised, the aircraft must land immediately at the closest airport.

Furthermore, aircrew members are taken off flight duty for a minimum of 24 hours and must have their eyes dilated and to be cleared by a doctor before flying again. This temporary loss of flight crews has the potential to significantly affect the unit’s abilities to conduct search, rescue, and homeland security missions.

People convicted of willfully and maliciously discharging a laser at any aircraft can be punished under California Penal Code with a misdemeanor and prison time up to one year with a $1000 fine, or a felony and prison time up to 16 months and a $2000 fine.

In addition, federal charges can be brought against the convicted person and can carry a sentence up to 20 years in prison and fines.



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