In a dangerous trend, aircraft in Hawaii are increasingly being targeted with laser lights

It’s a serious crime that’s been on the rise, especially in Honolulu.
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 4:34 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 29, 2022 at 8:19 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An investigation has been launched into a potentially deadly prank.

Officers were dispatched to Sand Island on Wednesday night in search of a suspect after reports an aircraft hit was hit by a laser strike.

It’s a serious crime that’s been on the rise, especially in Honolulu.

Aviation officials confirm there are more laser strikes happening in Hawaii per capita than anywhere else in the country.

The most recent incident was reported just after 10 p.m. Wednesday. That’s when officials say a Delta Airlines flight bound for Seattle was reportedly illuminated by a green laser during take off from Honolulu’s airport.

“People have to understand how serious this is,” said Peter Forman, aviation expert.

Forman said not only can the bright light emitted from a laser permanently damage the pilot’s eyes, it can also cause temporary blindness.

“Take off and landing is the most critical time,” Forman said. “You could theoretically cause an accident and lose hundreds of lives.”

While no one was hurt in Wednesday night’s incident, officials say it’s a dangerous prank that’s on the rise.

Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration received 9,723 laser strike reports from pilots nationwide.

That’s the highest number ever recorded.

In Hawaii, data shows there have been 99 reported laser incidents between January and August of this year. While several of those have happened in Lihue and Kahului, the vast majority occurred in Honolulu.

“If someone takes a picture from the airplane of that laser light they can pinpoint exactly where it was,” Forman said.

Records show the suspect involved in this latest incident was believed to be at Sand Island State Park. Officers were dispatched to the area but no arrests were made.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime that could land you in prison for up to five years.