MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - A small beam of light is causing big concerns along the lakeshore and elsewhere.
The US Coast Guard is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person who flashed a laser at one of their helicopters last month near Muskegon.
The incident happened August 17 along the lakeshore. The Muskegon-based helicopter rescue crew were on a nighttime training flight when the aircraft was flashed by the green laser.
The crew was fortunate. The laser didn't hurt the pilots eyes.
"It's dangerous to fly helicopters to begin with," said Coast Guard Grand Haven Commander Sean Brady, who was briefed on the incident. "And now, when you've got somebody trying to blind you while you're doing it, it complicates matters a lot."
The chopper continued the training session without incident. Commander Brady said they believe some people on Muskegon County's Pioneer Park that night were responsible.
"When we showed up, everybody scattered," he told 24 Hour News 8.
This UK news report shows a helicopter-eye view of a laser incident
Lasers, used to point, level, set sights and do various other jobs, have been a recurring problem for pilots around the world.
"Imagine someone walking up to you in the middle of the night and shining a flashlight in your face, a high powered flashlight," Brady said. "These lasers are a lot more powerful than a flashlight. It's like a high intensity floodlight."
The lasers in question are small with different intensities and are available at many sporting goods and office supply stores and on the Internet.
While most lasers look pretty harmless, looks can be deceiving - especially when it come to the more powerful green lasers.
A quick search of YouTube shows the cockpit view, from jets to police helicopters, when the green lasers are pointed into the aircraft. The laser lights flash like lightning and can temporarily blind the pilot.
The Coast Guard is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the Muskegon case.
" We've got to get out there. And somebody is sitting on shore trying to hinder our ability to go rescue somebody," Brady said. "That doesn't sit well with me. I don't think it sits well with anybody."
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