Mischief or malice: laser attacks on airplanes

Lasers are awesome!

While we are all familiar with red laser pointers, there is a new generation of easily available, green lasers.  Their beam penetrates much farther and they are much brighter than the tired old red ones.

For example, even this little green laser pointer has a range of over two and a half kilometers (about 2 miles).

And, this ad for a green laser claims it is 60x brighter than the ‘old’ red laser pointers.

And that does not even take into account the fact that the human eye is much more sensitive to light in the blue-green wavelengths than to light in the red end of the spectrum.

All of this, put together, should not be a bad thing,  ‘should’ being the operative word here….

It turns out that some people – for whatever reasons – are using good things for bad purposes.  Surprised?

With the easy availability of long-range, powerful green lasers, some people are shining them into the cockpits of airplanes trying to land at airports.

If this is done by silly people as a prank, it’s not funny.  Airplanes are not LOL cats!

Yet, this is an ‘easy’ form of sabotaging airplanes for any group of people who deem themselves above the laws of our society and callous enough to take human lives to further their ends.  Especially in heavily concentrated urban areas – like ones where many airports are located in – the potential for destruction is enormous.

Which begs the question:  what are we going to do about this?

And, please, don’t say ‘ban the lasers’ – banning things is just not a solution to anything.  It is a band-aid at best, because it ignores the underlying problem.  We have got to stop kidding ourselves that addressing the symptoms of a problem, without solving the underlying problem, will fix ‘stuff’.

Than always makes things worse in the long run.