Lasers: NORAD's Got a "Good" One ...

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Showing Errant Pilots the (Really Bright) Light

First, recall that shining a laser at an airplane is a felony under the Patriot Act (as New Jersey resident David Banach is finding out the hard way). Now, enter NORAD's "Visual Warning System" (VWS). As pilots all over the country report being temporarily blinded, as the TSA issues warnings that terrorists might be using lasers to blind pilots to bring down airliners and as the FAA and FBI begin a concerted effort to find and prosecute lasing suspects, NORAD is planning to shine lasers into your cockpit if you bust the ADIZ around Washington, D.C. And in what must be the media-relations challenge of the year, Mike Kucharek, chief of media relations for NORAD, is trying to help us tell the difference between good lasers (NORAD's) and bad lasers (everyone else's?). "There is no correlation between the lasers being reported on by the news media as the VWS is only being tested in the National Capital Region," Kucharek said in a statement sent to AVweb on Wednesday. Kucharek said NORAD, which is working on the project with the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and the FAA, will be testing the unit through Jan. 20 (inauguration day) and it's not only pilots who might be wondering what's going on. With security at a fever pitch for the inauguration, NORAD is now telling Washington-area residents not to worry about the red and green beams of light they might see cutting through the night sky. If the system works, plans are in the works to make it a permanent fixture of the ADIZ, Kucharek said.