Man arrested after shining laser pointer at California Highway Patrol plane into pilot's eye

Posted at 10:29 AM, Feb 20, 2020

Police arrested a man Monday after he allegedly pointed a blue laser at a California Highway Patrol (CHP) plane as it attempted to land at a Northern California airport.

According to a Facebook post by the Golden Gate Division Air Operations of the CHP, the pilot was struck "directly" in the eye by the laser as he approached the Napa County Airport.

The pilot did not lose control of the plane because it was on autopilot. After he regained his vision, he located the source of the laser with the plane's camera. Video shared by the CHP shows the laser repeatedly blinding the camera as the plane flies.

The pilot was able to notify the Solano County Sheriff's Office, who sent deputies to the location from where the laser was coming. A man, who was not identified, was found at the scene in possession of a laser pointer. He was arrested and faces two felony charges.

The CHP also noted that the suspect could also face additional FAA fines.

According to the CHP, other pilots that landed at the airport had reported being blinded by lasers in recent days. The agency said it's unknown if the same suspect was the responsible party in those other instances.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.