(MT. AIRY, MD) — On the evening of October 12, 2014, Maryland State Police “Trooper 3,” an AW-139 helicopter based in Frederick, Maryland, was returning from a medevac mission. While “Trooper 3” was in the vicinity of MD Route 27 and MD Route 144 in Carroll County, a green flash illuminated the cockpit of the aircraft from the north. The aircraft received approximately three more flashes consistent with that of a laser pointer. The crew was able to determine the residence the laser was originating from.
The flight crew contacted the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack to request assistance to identify possible suspects at the residence. Upon arrival of patrol troopers from the Westminster Barrack, an investigation determined a 12-year-old male had shined a green handheld astronomy laser at the aircraft. Further investigation will be handled by Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack and federal authorities.
The dangers of illuminating an aircraft with a laser cannot be overstated. A laser illumination in the cockpit can cause temporary visual impairment for both pilots and aircrew members. The distraction, disorientation, and discomfort caused by a laser illumination can create a hazardous situation for helicopter crews performing critical flight operations. Targeting an aircraft with a laser is both a state and federal crime punishable by large fines and jail time.