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Laser strikes on Fort Myers aircraft expected to break records by 2022

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The number of people pointing lasers at airplanes in the sky has never been higher.

Just last week, a 17-year-old was arrested after he fired a laser at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.

This is not strange at all. The FAA report 9,723 over the course of calendar year 2021. That’s the most laser strikes ever in a year, up from 6,852 in 2020.

Florida alone has seen 630 laser attacks in 2021. At home in Southwest Florida, we’ve seen 26 attacks and we’re on pace for a record year. in 2022.

At the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, their Aviation pilots record hundreds of hours in the skies over SWFL each year. Every time they take off, no walk in the park.

Police Chief Carmine Marceno said: “The flight alone brings a level of stress. “You want to make sure that everything is right, everything is right. There’s no room for error.”

They hit speeds of up to 130 mph, but there’s one thing that can make that go awry and can come to a catastrophic stop.

An LCSO pilot said: “Just hit by a laser, we are still affected by it right now. in a laser attack in 2020.

“The first thing they did was they blind the pilot, you couldn’t see,” said Sheriff Marcelo. “At 500 feet or less, that tiny laser is literally the width of a telephone pole.”

Like Manatee County pilots last weekLCSO pilots were also dazzled by the laser beam.

“I got shot in the eye a little bit,” one LCSO pilot said in private incident in 2020. “Now my eyes are watery. Let’s look elsewhere. ”

To give us a better look, Captain Stephen Humfleet and Major Richard Snyder took NBC-2’s Gage Goulding into the sky.

“It’s all clear on the left. All clear. All clear to the right,” the pilots said before takeoff.

Both of these veteran pilots said they were hit by a laser while flying to the emergency room.

“Think about your night vision and if you were walking at night and suddenly someone shines a bright light here, how long will it take you to regain your night vision?” said the pilot.

There’s a lot going on inside the cockpit of a helicopter. So add flying at night or to a police situation and then a laser strike. It only takes a few seconds for the problem to happen.

“The moments when you can’t see, when your eyes are blurry or watery, it can be a disaster. Those are life-or-death situations,” said Sheriff Marcelo.

It doesn’t just happen at night. Even in daylight, laser attacks are extremely dangerous.

“If we deviate a little bit, we’re done,” the pilots said.

So far in Fort Myers this year, there have been seven laser attacks in January. If we continue at that pace, we’ll hit 84 by the end of the year. That would be a huge jump from 26 for all of 2021.

“It’s a shame for anyone who thought that little ‘joke’ would go unnoticed,” says Marceno. “They’re getting bracelets and they’re going to jail.”

Shining a laser at an airplane is a felony, according to FAA. You can be fined up to $250,000 and even go to jail for 5 years.

https://nbc-2.com/news/local/2022/02/10/laser-strikes-on-aircraft-in-fort-myers-already-on-pace-to-break-records-in-2022/ Laser strikes on Fort Myers aircraft expected to break records by 2022

Tom Vazquez

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