...The Hazard, Real Or Perceived...

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Now, it seems hard to believe that anything powered by a couple of AA batteries could potentially bring down an airplane but the pilots of a Citation lased while on approach to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey a couple of weeks ago were sufficiently moved by the experience to help local authorities track down the culprit. As AVweb reported on Thursday, David Banach, of Parsippany, N.J., is now facing federal charges under the Patriot Act for what his lawyer claims was an innocent mistake. Banach was using a Jasper green laser available over the Internet for $119 and sometimes used by astronomy buffs to point out stars and galaxies in the night sky. The green beam of light is apparently clearly visible as it slices through the darkness. Despite the apparent effectiveness of the lasers, there are those who doubt their danger. The Register, a Web site devoted to commentary on IT topics, unleashed its readers on the issue and many of them brought up technical issues that cast doubt on the ability of anyone to purposely shine a hand-held laser into a pilot's eyes from thousands of feet away. One even claimed to have tried it (unsuccessfully, thankfully) himself.