FBI warns of increase in laser attacks on Kansas City planes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Lots of people are traveling this weekend, and the FBI, the Kansas City Department of Aviation, and the Kansas City Police want to make sure a prank doesn’t lead to a tragedy.

Pilots face all kinds of dangers in the air. The Kansas City Police Helicopter Section added special visors that they can fold over their helmets due to a ground hazard they should never have to face – lasers.

“The beam is not shining and as you see in the movies, ‘Oh, I have a point on my sleeve.’ That’s not how it looks like a pilot. It lights up the whole cabin and blinds everyone in the cabin, “said Officer Darin Lutz.

In 2010, 2,836 laser strikes were reported in the United States, up from 6,852 laser strikes in 2020. And by October of this year, the number of laser strikes had already exceeded last year. In Kansas City, strikes against commercial planes are up 167% from a year ago.

“It seems that in recent years, even we got more calls from air traffic control, not only hitting us, but planes entering MCI were also going downtown and our EMS going to local hospitals.” Lutz said.

When a laser attack is reported, police investigate from the air.

“It’s not just like a light is hitting us, and we don’t know where it is. If it hits us, we can follow it to its source, ”Lutz said.

Lutz said he’d like to think people don’t realize the blinding effect lasers have on pilots – or the ramifications. Pointing a laser at an airplane is a federal offense, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000.

“Don’t aim a laser at an airplane. You never know who’s on it. It could be a loved one you know. Even if it’s us up there, if you disorient a plane and it falls to the ground and crashes, it will also injure people on the ground, ”Lutz said.

Police say if you see someone pointing a laser at a plane, dial 911. If you have information about a laser incident, contact the Kansas City FBI Division at 816-512-8200.

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