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FBI: Laser strike came from Vidalia area, reward offered
Air Force plane cockpit hit on March 9
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The FBI, in coordination with the United States Air Force, is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for a laser strike on an aircraft that was headed towards the Savannah Air National Guard Base on March 9, 2021.

According to a release from the FBI, on March 9, at approximately 9:50 p.m., a United States Air Force aircraft was deliberately struck by a high-powered laser for about one minute. The laser caused temporary eye damage to a member of the flight crew and put the entire crew at risk.

Investigators with the FBI and Air Force believe the laser strike originated from an area northeast of Vidalia.

When aimed at an aircraft, the powerful beam of light from a handheld laser can travel more than a mile. It can illuminate a cockpit, possibly disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots. Those who have experienced such attacks have described them as the equivalent of a camera flash going off in a pitch black car at night.  

The release stated: “It is a serious matter and a federal felony to knowingly point the beam of a laser at an aircraft.”

Laser strikes on aircraft continue to increase each year. In the latest available statistics from 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration received 6,754 reports of laser strikes on aircraft. That was a 250-percent increase since FAA started tracking laser strikes in 2010.

The FAA is working with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against individuals who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft.

Anyone with information about the laser strike on March 9 is asked to contact the FBI office in Atlanta at (770) 216-3000 or go to tips.fbi.gov.


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