Lasers aimed at planes could blind pilots

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 11:11 20/01/2014

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Green laser beams thought to be powerful enough to blind a pilot are being pointed at airplanes passing over the North Canterbury resort of Hanmer Springs.

Police scoured two camping grounds east of the town after the latest laser strike about 10.30pm on Saturday, but did not find the "irresponsible" culprit.

An Air New Zealand A320, flying from Auckland to Christchurch, was at an altitude of about 26,000 feet and gradually descending when the pilot noticed a green light inside the cockpit, Senior Constable Chris Hughey, of the Hanmer Springs police, said.

The light was powerful enough to affect the pilot, who was hit a couple of times, and co-pilot.

"Whoever was holding the laser was successful at keeping the beam on them for 10 seconds," Hughey said. "Fortunately, they were at high altitude. If it had been targeted at low altitude, it could have blinded the pilot."

Police searched two camping grounds below the spot where the plane was struck by the laser, but found nothing.

"It is a dangerous game to be playing. We want this to stop. It's irresponsible behaviour from people who aren't thinking."

Hughey asked for anyone with information on the incidents to phone the Hanmer or Rangiora police stations.

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