GENERAL VALLEY NEWS
Man learns not to point laser beam at sheriff helicopter & inbound flights to SeaTac airport
March 14, 2018
(BURIEN, WA.) -- A 29 year old man was arrested last night after allegedly pointing a green laser at inbound commercial flights at SeaTac Airport as well as at the King County Sheriff’s Helicopter, Guardian 1.
Tuesday evening March 13 around 9:34 pm Guardian 1 was notified by Sea-Tac Airport control tower that "an unauthorized green laser was being pointed at several inbound aircraft," according to a statement from the sheriff's office. "The pilots were reporting that the laser was coming from the Burien transit center area."
Guardian 1 flew into that area attempting to locate the source of the laser beam and within minutes of arriving near the Burien transit Center, saw a person standing at the bus stop point a green laser at Guardian 1.
"The laser caused a brief interruption of their flight duties and prevented them from looking outside the aircraft,"said the statement. Deputies were able to use the FLIR system (camera system) in the helicopter to locate the man at the bus stop who was suspected of wielding the laser. Deputies on the ground were able to quickly locate him with help Guardian 1 and place him under arrest.
Deputies say the man had a laser "on his person and admitted to showing his friend his new laser and “accidentally shining the laser near the airport”.
Deputies say he also admitted to purposely shining it at Guardian 1 but, “Didn’t think it was a big deal”.
The 29-year old man was released at the scene. The case will be forwarded to detectives for follow-up. The man could face a felony charge -- RCW 9A.49.020 which covers "unlawful discharge of a laser in the first degree."
The sheriff's office points out that aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety risk because visible laser light causes distraction or temporary flash blindness to a pilot, during a critical phase of flight such as landing or takeoff.