SAN RAMON (CBS SF) — A KCBS traffic plane made an unexpected landing after a pilot was hit in the eye with a laser Thursday morning.
KCBS traffic reporter Ron Cervi was in the plane when a green laser struck the pilot above San Ramon at about 6:40 a.m.
Cervi said it happened without him noticing until the pilot turned to him and said he got hit.
“It was very, very strong,” Cervi said. “Someone pointed this laser and got my pilot right in the eye.”
Feeling a minor burning sensation, the pilot immediately called the Oakland Airport tower and told them what happened. CHP was notified, and the FBI launched a plane to investigate the laser’s origin.
The pilot safely landed the plane and felt fine enough to drive himself to the doctor for a medical check. A doctor said his eyes appeared healthy on initial examination, but recommended a visit with a specialist.
Cervi has flown in the Bay Area for about 25 years but says he has never been a victim of a laser attack. Still, he adds, “this is a serious thing that happens in the Bay Area.”
This video, produced for the U.S. Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA, shows how dangerous it is for pilots when people point lasers at aircraft.
A green laser in particular is 20 to 30 times brighter than a red laser and can temporarily blind pilots and even cause damage to the human eye.
There are serious legal consequences for people caught pointing lasers at planes. In October 2008, a California man was sentenced to two years in prison for aiming a 3 milliwatt laser pointer at an aircraft. This is a relatively low-powered laser, about the same strength as a supermarket checkout-stand laser scanner.