Coast Guard mission aborted after laser pointed at cockpit

Published On: Oct 25 2012 07:19:23 AM HST   Updated On: Oct 25 2012 07:29:35 AM HST
KALAELOA, Hawaii -

When Coast Guard pilot Daniel Judycki suits up for his training missions and prepares for take off, the last thing on his mind is he could lose the one thing he needs most to fly: his vision.

But that's almost what happened last night.

Judycki was on a training exercise with three other crew members just a mile off the Mahaka Coast when someone shined a laser through the cockpit.

"Our flight mechanic and rescue swimmer were hit in the eyes with the laser so they were seeing spots and suffered blindness for several moments," said Lt. Judycki.

The crew was forced to return to Barbers Point.

Judycki was wearing night vision goggles and was not hit.  However, his crewmates who were will have to be checked out before they can fly again.

"The biggest issue that the Coast Guard or any pilot would have is it prevents us from doing our job," said Judycki. "Our primary mission is search and rescue if you're taking on water or if you're a flipped boat or you needed assistance we are here to come and help.  We can't do that when lasers shine at us and are blinding our pilots, blinding our flight crew, we have to turn back at that point."

The Coast Guard plans on launching a public service announcement soon to put an end to the laser incidents.

Shining a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime and is punishable up to five years behind bars.

Hawaii isn't the only state dealing with laser incidents.  According to the Federal Aviation Administration, more than 3,500 cases were reported last year.  The number has increased so much the FAA has its own laser incident reporting website.


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