SAN ANTONIO -- It’s another day at the office for pilot Danny Thompson. He flies Chopper 5 for KENS-TV. However, there’s a hidden danger he can’t control in the form of lasers pointed at him from the ground.
“You have to take evasive action, look away and it distracts you from what you should be doing and that’s flying the aircraft safely,” said “Thompson.
Just last week Chopper 5 had a laser aimed its way while flying around downtown. A problem Danny has seen more than once.
“Seven to eight times, and the green lasers are the worst ones,” Thompson said.
The Federal Aviation Administration reports laser incidents have increased every year since 2005, with numbers skyrocketing the last few years. In 2012, San Antonio recorded more than two dozen incidents.
Penalties have increased for the crime. The problem is, many pilots say finding the source can be like “finding a needle in a haystack."
“It angers you to the point where you want to do something about it, but there’s nothing you can do other than file a report for statistics,” Thompson said.
Law enforcement aircraft have the best luck tracking down people aiming lasers at pilots since police have tools that help them pinpoint the source, then call for backup.
Aside from federal penalties, the Federal Aviation Administration can pursue a civil penalty of up to $11,000 per violation.