Laser pointer forces Coast Guard helicopter to land - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Laser pointer forces Coast Guard helicopter to land at Barber's Point

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter was forced to land at Barbers Point late on Tuesday after it was targeted by an individual with a laser pointer while flying offshore of Oahu.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the helicopter was flying nearly two miles offshore of Oahu when the laser pointer compromised the vision of the chopper's flight mechanic and rescue swimmer.

The Coast Guard says that laser pointers can cause problems like flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision, all of which cause danger to flight crews. Coast Guard flight rules dictate that the an aircraft must abort a mission if any aircrew member's vision is compromised during a flight,.

"Whether this was a malicious or just irresponsible act, it is critical that the public be aware of the seriousness of lasing an aircraft," said Capt. Timothy Gilbride, commanding officer of Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point. "Not only does it risk the lives of the aircrew, it can delay rescue missions or disable crews, risking the lives of distressed mariners."

The crew members are taken off flight duty for a minimum of 24 hours after a vision-related incident, and they must have their eyes dilated and be cleared by a doctor before they are allowed to fly again.

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