'Please just don't do it ... It could cost lives,' KSAT pilot says after laser pointed at Sky 12

Offenders could face up to 5 years in prison, up to $250,000 fine

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SAN ANTONIO – It may seem like a joke, but pointing a laser at an aircraft can be a scary situation, which pilots face a lot of times.

KSAT's Sky 12 pilot Calvin Farrow was put in danger after someone pointed a laser at the aircraft Monday during the Nightbeat. 

Fast Facts:

  • It is against the law to point a laser at an aircraft.

  • Offenders could face up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

  • Helicopter pilots use both feet and both hands to operate aircraft and have no help to block the view from incoming, blinding lasers.

  • Pilots report every laser incident to the Federal Aviation Administration, which then alerts the FBI. Investigators often have clear video of the perpetrators, their cars or homes from advanced video taken by helicopter photographers.

The following are the statistics of laser reports nationally and in San Antonio respectively:

  • 2018: 1,068 nationally; 13 in San Antonio through March 3

  • 2017: 6,753 nationally; 62 in San Antonio

  • 2016: 7,442 nationally; 50 in San Antonio

  • 2015: 7,346 nationally; 48 in San Antonio

Behind-the-scenes look at Sky 12

KSAT's Courtney Friedman gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Sky 12 after someone pointed a laser at the aircraft last night. The entire story airs on the Nightbeat at 10.

Posted by KSAT 12 & KSAT.com on Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What KSAT Sky 12 pilot Calvin Farrow is saying:

“I am the sole pilot. The controls can get out of hand rather rapidly. It can take five to 10 seconds for it to all be over. I’ve got my life and a cameraman in the back. If I could have lost control, we might have hit some people on the ground.”

“Due to atmospheric interference, it kind of spreads the beam out. Once it’s gone a mile, it’s at least a foot wide. You can’t see anything for the next few minutes but dots.” 

“When it happened last year, it hit me in the eyes. I was in danger of losing my aviation medical and I had to go see an eye doctor. I had to prove I was still physically fit to fly. That’s my livelihood.”

“Think about the lives you’re affecting. It’s not very smart. It could cost lives. Please just don’t do it.”

Below is a video of the people pointing the laser at the Sky 12 pilot:

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About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.