Lasers and light beams becoming a bigger problem for pilots over the Coastal Bend

It is no big secret that pilots have been dealing with laser beams and bright lights coming at them from the ground for years. But only recently did we learn how big of a problem it is for pilots here in our local area.

Pilots have been increasingly concerned with the occurrences that are happening around our area as they notice the problem more and more. Many pilots are claiming that what they are often seeing isn’t lasers but also high powered spotlights that are commonly used for fishing and recreational activities.

On Tuesday night, December 8, 2020 a commercial pilot reported to the FAA of seeing a bright laser being directed towards their cockpit while approaching the area. The pilots were heard radioing that a “blue laser” was seen off to the right of their aircraft and it was causing them some concern. The FAA notes the locations and preforms what investigation they can on the incidents but only rarely are the offenders caught.

The skies over Corpus Christi are a busy place when you factor in all of the military and civil aviation traffic that occurs both during the daylight and at night. Many times the air traffic flies over area beaches and waterways where people are fishing. Pilots say that people see or hear the planes and likely shine the lights into the air trying to get a look at the aircraft—but that in itself could create big problems and is against the law.

The FAA says that it is against the law to shine any type of laser or light towards an aircraft and it could be punishable by fines and or prison time. For pilots they are just concerned that it is putting lives at risk.

Officials warn that you should never shine any type of light towards an aircraft even if all you want to do is get a good look.

“These lights used for fishing or recreation are very bright,” says aviation analyst Greg Brown. “These lights are used all the time and most boats have them. They can really blind a pilot and cause serious problems regardless of how innocent you intentions might be.”

Brown says that aircraft spotting can be fun and exciting but even things like flash photography can create big issues for pilots.

“People need to use a little common sense,” Brown says. “We are seeing these types of incidents on the rise in places like South Texas because so many people havre these light. People need to understand that those beams travel much further than they think.”

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