Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, Aviation Safety and Laser Pointers

Posted July 17, 2014

by Ted Roe
Executive Director
In June 2014, the FBI announced an intensification of its anti-laser strike program
based upon an increasing number of reported laser attacks on aircraft.

The FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005.
Last year, there were a total of 3,960 laser strikes reported—an average of almost 11
incidents per day. Many more incidents go unreported.

(Image: Laser attack on an A320 inbound to Edinbrugh. Documented by a passenger      
and posted on the NARCAP.org Twitter feed on 26Sept2015  - Described as "Blinding")

Pointing a laser at an aircraft can blind pilots temporarily, even injure their eyes, and
put any souls onboard in danger. Lasers can also be mistaken for ordinance and be very
un-nerving for pilots in low-flying aircraft.

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the FAA consider laser strikes to be
intential attacks and terrorism. There is a significant penalty for being convicted of pointing
a laser at an airplane and there are entire response teams in the FBI and elsewhere that
are dedicated to hunting down those responsible for laser strikes on aircraft.

So what does this have to do with unidentified aerial phenomena and aviation safety?

For years certain personalities in the “UFO Community” have promoted pointing lasers into
the sky and pointing lasers at moving lights in the sky as a good idea that will attract or
reveal “alien activity”. Recently, the higher profile promoters of this activity have tried to
distance themselves from accountability for this practice but the use of laser pointers by self-
styled “UFO hunters” has continued to increase and has become a global problem.

Several months ago a conversation in Facebook focused on several Australian promoters
of this idea of using lasers to “cause ufos to power up”. One of them is even offering laser
pointers for sale to be used to “attract ufos”. They argued that their lasers were very low
power, etc., and are clearly unapologetic about committing criminal activity and putting lives
at risk.

Today, in the NARCAP.org Twitter feed, a very experienced commercial airline pilot
complained of a laser attack while on final approach to an airport in China.

FBI analysis shows laser strikes happen most frequently between midnight and 7 a.m., with
the greatest number of strikes occurring between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. In many cases, laser
strikes are being committed by teens and adults between the ages of 35-45. Most do not
comprehend the serious consequences of lasing and, in some cases, are unaware it is
against the law.

“Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law,” said
Ron Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “It is important that
people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions.”

It is not certain whether the FBI and the other authorities involved in addressing this
problem are aware of how much of the “UFO community” make it a practice to point lasers
at moving aerial lightsources. So far it hasn’t singled-out ‘alien chasers’ as contributors to
this problem. It is a reasonable bet that fact will eventually come to their attention and the
bad press for the “UFO community” will increase.

Some associations should be avoided and the individuals, groups and organizations out
there that are or have been promoting and/or engaging in dangerous and illegal practices  
should be held accountable.

Through September 3, 2014, the FBI Anti-Laser Strike program will offer a reward of up to
$10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of any individual who aims a laser at an
aircraft. A similar reward program is already being offered in 12 other cities across the

If you see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call the nearest local law enforcement
agency immediately by dialing 911. Tips can also be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov.

Under federal law, intentionally aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony offense,
carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.