...As Laser "Fence" Readies For Debut

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Meanwhile, the new ground-based Visual Warning System around the D.C. ADIZ is ready to deploy on Saturday. The system signals pilots who intrude into the no-fly zone with low-level laser beams in an alternating red-red-green light sequence. Any pilots who receive the warning must immediately turn away from the signal and contact Air Traffic Control. The lasers are eye-safe and non-hazardous at all ranges, according to NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command), which developed the system. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) volunteers flying low-and-slow single-engine Cessnas have been working with NORAD in test flights. "This week we saw exactly what can happen when a pilot flies into an unauthorized zone in the D.C. area," said CAP Maj. Gen. Dwight Wheless. "This new Visual Warning System will give pilots immediate feedback when they are straying into a no-fly zone, and will be a valuable new tool in our country's homeland defense program." AOPA's Andy Cebula is in favor of the system. "The VWS is a way to quickly notify pilots who inadvertently stray into restricted airspace that won't cause panic in the cockpit or on the ground," he said. "The system minimizes the need for airborne intercepts, which is safer for everyone." AOPA also has posted a brief video of the system in action.