Laser pointed at emergency services aircraft in Bunbury angers local pilots

Bunbury Herald
Bunbury Aero Club flight instructor Catherine Forknall can't understand why people shine lasers at planes at night.
Camera IconBunbury Aero Club flight instructor Catherine Forknall can't understand why people shine lasers at planes at night. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

Local police have warned shining lasers at planes is “extremely dangerous” and offenders will be prosecuted.

It comes after a report was made to the City of Bunbury – which owns Bunbury Airport – earlier this month of a laser being directed at an emergency services aircraft flying in to land.

The dangerous incident forced the pilot to turn the aircraft’s navigation lights off temporarily in a bid to be less visible.

South West District acting superintendent Scott Morrissey said offenders could be liable to imprisonment for up to seven years and in the Magistrate’s Court faced up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $36,000.

It’s extremely dangerous – it endangers the health of the pilot and you do not want them having issues in flight.

Acting superintendent Scott Morrissey

“In Perth, infrequently they get people pointing lasers at planes or choppers, and the ground police at those locations then get the address and find the offenders who are then prosecuted.”

Supt. Morrissey encouraged anyone who witnessed a laser directed at an aircraft to report it to police.

Bunbury Aero Club flight instructor Catherine Forknall has had the unpleasant experience herself and was one of the biggest dangers during take-off and landing.

She said it could cause temporary blindness and extreme cases more permanent damage.

I don’t understand why people do it.

Catherine Forknall

“…When we’re flying at night, it’s like when you’re driving your car – you don’t have your interior lights on. So after a couple of hours flying our eyes are pretty accustomed to the dark.”

“I compare it to when you get out of bed at night to go to the toilet and turn your light on – you can’t see temporarily.”

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