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Pilot explains what happens when a laser is shined at an airplane: ‘This is why I just wave to planes’

Sabrina Johnson (@sabrinaleej), a popular pilot on TikTok, recently posted a video explaining just how much trouble shining a laser at an airplane can get a person into.

“If you think it’s funny to shoot a laser at an airplane, it’s not,” she said. “Let’s talk about why you can go to jail.”

Johnson explained that someone pointed a laser at her while she flew as a flight instructor. She let LaGuardia Tower know that someone was shining something at them. After that, the FBI called her and said they narrowed down where the light was coming from within a 1.3-mile radius.

“They will find you,” Johnson said. “They take this so seriously.”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime. It’s punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and even five years imprisonment. The FAA can also impose civil penalties of fines up to $11,000.

“This is why I just wave to planes,” said @cksears.

“People forget that lasers work both ways. You are literally telling the pilot exactly where you are,” said @ovrwrite.

Since 2016, the FAA has received over 50,000 reported cases of lasering, with over 9,000 incidents in both 2021 and 2022. Through March 31 of this year, the FAA has tallied 925 incidents.

Johnson described another time when, after giving officials her location, police headed out immediately — furthering her point that perpetrators can be found.

“If you actually blind a pilot with the laser, and you are the reason people end up hurt because of that, you’re probably going to jail a lot longer than just a stupid fine,” Johnson said.

As Johnson explained, shining a laser can cost you major money and potentially time.

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