Want to Stay on Santa's Nice List? FAA Says Don't Point Holiday Laser Lights at the Sky

·2 min read
Christmas lights
Christmas lights


If you want to stay on the nice list, you need to be mindful of your holiday laser-light displays.

The Federal Aviation Administration says that although laser-light displays make the holidays merry and bright, if pointed at the sky they pose a danger to airplane pilots, distracting them or even temporarily blinding them.

Because of this, laser lights should be directed toward your home.

"The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than you might realize," according to a press release from the FAA on Friday.

Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator and pilot told USA TODAY that "many high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots flying aircraft that may be carrying hundreds of passengers and crewmembers."

He added, "A pilot can face temporary blindness or suffer an eye injury that could be permanent."

If your laser light display becomes a problem for pilots, individuals will first be asked to adjust them or turn them off.

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If the lights continue to be an issue, however, a person could face a civil penalty up to $11,000 per incident if found to be purposely interfering with aircraft. The FAA says repeat offenders have been fined up to $30,800.

"The FAA works with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against individuals who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft," per a release.

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In 2020, a man was arrested for intentionally pointing lasers at planes attempting to land at Sarasota-Bradenton Airport in Florida. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office alleged Charlie Chapman Jr. "shot his laser pointer" at a plane four times and again at the MCSO helicopter, temporarily blinding a pilot in one of the incidents.

As of Nov. 22, the FAA reported 8,550 "laser strike" incidents, compared to 6,852 in 2020 – the highest number of incidents since it first began tracking in 2010.

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