A Minnesota man whose laser attacks distracted and affected the vision of a Delta Air Lines crew was sentenced to two years in jail in a Wisconsin court last week. Nicholas James Link of Rochester, Minnesota, pleaded guilty in January to shining a blue laser into the flight deck of the Delta aircraft and to also lighting up a Minnesota State Patrol aircraft that was involved in the investigation. According to the Associated Press, prosecutors said U.S. District Court Judge William Conley took into account that the laser strike distracted the pilots while they were complying with a change in their approach ordered by air traffic control.
“Judge Conley called aiming a laser at an aircraft incredibly dangerous and reckless, and in this case forced the Delta pilots to focus on their temporary blindness which put everyone on the aircraft in incredible danger,” a statement from the prosecutors said. The flight, which was setting up for Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport on a flight from Raleigh-Durham, was hit by the lasers as it descended through 9,000 feet and the pilots were punching data for a runway change. “The laser strikes caused a major distraction in the cockpit as they were not able to look at their iPads to brief the new approach,” the prosecutors’ statement said. They landed without incident.
Meanwhile the State Police aircraft was sent to help find the suspect and he made it easy by lighting it up, too. Local police on the ground found Link with the blue laser still on him. Blue laser attacks are relatively rare and potentially more dangerous than the more common green and red incidents. Human eyes are less sensitive to the shorter wavelengths of the blue light so they don’t react as quickly to the damaging rays.
Laser effects on the eye
The unprotected human eye is extremely sensitive to laser radiation and can be permanently damaged from direct or reflected beams.
Due to tissue characteristics, the area of the eye damaged by laser energy is dependent upon the wavelength of the incident laser beam. The retina, cornea, and lens are the areas most commonly damaged.
Sure, you can pick that nit – I’m with you. I believe that judges should use legally and technically correct grammar in their official speech.
What you didn’t suggest a clarifying alternative to the adjective, such as, “extremely”. I think that’s what the judge meant.
Oops, horrible grammer:
*remove the “What”, above (and capitalize the y)
Not to pick nits, but the usage of “incredible” in the statement from prosecutors is questionable. “Incredible” means “not credible” or “unbelieveable” and the actions of the criminal were credible and believeable enough to get him convicted. “Incredible” would be better used in a different context, such as “this guy got an incredibly light sentence.”
Find another pick to nit. The “incredible” is often used to to describe extreme things, in this case extreme danger. A few synonyms for “incredible”: inconceivable, unimaginable, extraordinary, great. Use of the word in this context is perfectly acceptable.
LOL – When the Comment Cops refer to nitting picks
“Light” sentence indeed…
All feeble attempts at humor aside, this is a very serious crime and the consequences of a laser strike are potentially tragic (as we all know). Perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way once more and we will actually begin to get more tough on crime (well, I can hope).
Cutting to the chase: If I were either pilot of that Delta flight I would feel 2 years in the slam is a mere slap on the wrist.
I agree, Wally.
“The unprotected human eye is extremely sensitive to laser radiation and can be permanently damaged from direct or reflected beams.
Due to tissue characteristics, the area of the eye damaged by laser energy is dependent upon the wavelength of the incident laser beam. The retina, cornea, and lens are the areas most commonly damaged.”
Not condoning these laser strikes in any way, but I do wish the media would also report the laser power level. These things are available commercially between about 1mWatt and 100Watt – yes, that range covers 5 orders of magnitude – a factor of 100’000. Needless to say that the effect on eyes is very different for 100Watt vs 1mWatt. Yet I am still looking for the first news article on this topic that actually states what laser was used.
If it affects the ability of the pilots to operate the aircraft, it doesn’t really matter. Five milliwatts can get you staggering about, I’m sure. Just a blast with a red laser is memorable. Green and blue cause longer temporary disruptions.
I think the fact that they were at 9000′ tell makes it clear that it was a very strong laser…
The article doesn’t say, but are most of the idiots who do this stupid teenagers who don’t know any better, or malicious adults? It’s hard to imagine any adult, other than a terrorist, doing this.
The fact that he hit the cops with the laser too does cast serious doubt on his reasoning ability.
There are plenty of idiot adults, no need for terrorists. When I was younger, a women told me that men don’t start to mature (in the social/emotional sense) prior to age 35. At close to twice that, I now have to agree with her. Many have had “seemed like an OK idea at the time” moments.
The guy did plead out, and essentially trashed his family.
Does anybody here think this guy will serve more than three months?
People who shine lasers at aircraft face FAA fines of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple laser incidents. The FAA has issued $120,000 in fines for laser strikes during 2021. Violators can also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Did the FAA do anything in this case?
This is a good example of the out of control morons that more and more run amok in our country. Perhaps, along with incarseration they should be beat with a cane every morning before breakfast.
I vote for hickory stick, much more flexible and springy for those reverberation secondary strikes. Better than a “Two-fer one”, more like a “Forty-fivefer one” per lashing. Irresponsible, entitled drone operators too.
I hope the Delta pilots were still able to monitor guard.
Get em! Get them and the drone incursion idiots, we need to filter out the sUAS sector of the entitled idiots.