Airborne rescuers reissue laser warning

HELICOPTER rescue specialists have repeated warnings about the dangers posed by shining high- intensity lights into the sky.

They have told of their fear as the prosecution of a man from the Hadleigh area is being considered following two incidents in Suffolk this month.

The 19-year-old man has been reported for directing or shining a light at an aircraft in flight.

Incidents were reported in Boxford on September 6 and in Polstead on September 9 by Wattisham Airfield staff and Suffolk Constabulary’s Air Support Unit.

A police spokeswoman said the man could be prosecuted for shining a light “so as to dazzle or distract the pilot.”

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Senior Aircraftman Daniel Valentine, of Wattisham Airfield, said: “Laser pens and other high-intensity lights can be extremely dangerous for pilots and helicopter crew when flying at night. Anyone onboard wearing night-vision could be blinded by the light, dramatically reducing the control they have over the aircraft.

“This sort of incident has happened to our crews two or three times this year. On each occasion the police have been informed and they have investigated. Most of the time the dangers are caused by laser pens. Torches are rarely powerful enough to affect our flightpath.

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“But, for example, if there is a laser light display in the area, we take it for granted that their range is unlimited and do not fly in the area.”

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