Never, ever point a laser pointer at an aircraft. Your cat’s favorite toy can blind the pilots aboard that aircraft, who will not be pleased. One man in Pasco County, Florida, somehow came up with an even worse idea: pointing a laser pointer at a police helicopter, which then promptly landed to arrest him for it.
Pasco County Sheriff’s Office pilots Stephen Bowman and Tim Bullis were helping officers with a barricaded suspect on Tuesday night when a red laser light flashed into their cockpit, police told ABC News.
“It blinded us for a couple of seconds. Extremely painful,” Bowman told WFTS. “At night, low and making turns and you get struck by a laser, couple seconds and you can fall a couple hundred feet.”
The pilots counted ten flashes of the laser on the helicopter’s onboard video. Because this was keeping them from being of any use in the air and no officers were available on the ground to take care of the pointer, the officers landed the helicopter in the nearby Portuguese American Cultural Association’s parking lot and arrested suspect Ryan Fluke, 27, themselves.
Fluke initially denied pointing the laser pointer at the officers’ helicopter, but later confessed after he was shown the video. He was released on a $5,000 bond from the Pasco County Jail.
“He said that it was ‘for fun.’ He said that he didn’t realize that a laser can travel a long distance even though we were only about 800 feet away from him,” Bowman told WFTS.
What comes next will be no fun, as pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail. Oops!