Lit up: Green laser directed at my plane


This is what a green laser looks like when it hits an airplane at 3000 feet
This is what a green laser looks like when it hits an airplane at 3000 feet

It was the end of a long travel day. As we approached Ontario International Airport in California I was mostly thinking about getting to the hotel as quickly as possible and crawling into bed, not the risk of a laser aimed at the aircraft.

Staring out the window as we paralleled the highway on approach, I was doing my best to sort out what was below. Low cloud cover obscured the view until we got below about 3000 feet, at which point the small neighborhoods nestled among the hills became apparent. The dark of nature offset by the lights of houses.

One home, in particular, appeared to have a Christmas light show gone haywire. A green light flickered, far brighter than anything else in the area. And then I realized it was not Christmas lights, but an asshat shining a green laser at our plane.



The laser went away, but quickly returned. And the second time I grabbed a photo. My camera was set for slow exposures, so that’s what I got. But the laser is unmistakable.

Fortunately, the only impact the laser had was on passengers. I asked the pilots after we landed and they said they hadn’t noticed. Which is a huge relief.

Having now seen the impact just as a passenger I cannot imagine how much worse it would be on the flight deck, so focused on the final few minutes of flying. But I’m certain it would be bad.

The location of our plane at the time of the incident, and the neighborhoods off the left side which also match the terrain from the photo. The offender is somewhere in there.
The location of our plane at the time of the incident, and the neighborhoods off the left side which also match the terrain from the photo. The offender is somewhere in there.

And there’s not much I can do as a passenger to help track down the offending party, though I did my best to identify the general area they were in at the time. And, yes, I did file a report with the FAA.



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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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