Friday, December 31, 2004

WTF is up with that?

Ok, my wife first alerted me to this story a couple days ago. Now I am starting to see more MSM coverage of it. It seems that some one is painting commercial airliners with a "laser" beam while on approach to land. My first inclination is to think this is some a$$hat kid who has gotten hold of a laser pointer. Its not annoying enough that they flash you while driving, or at the movie theater, but now they are trying to screw with airplanes. On the surface this can seem like a harmless little prank. However, being thoughtless imbecile, these pranksters don't think of the consequences of their actions. What happens when Captain John Smith tries to land a plane when a laser light pierces the cockpit, burns his retina and blinds him? At the minimum this is an illegal prank, at the worse this could be potentially disastrous.

However, the FBI has now let it slip that our good friends, those peace- loving Muslims in Al Quieda have looked into using lasers to attack commercial airliners. So harmless prank begins to turn into terrorist attack. This started me thinking. First, how steady would one's hand have to be to keep a laser pointer on a plan moving at well over 70 miles and hour (I am not a pilot, but I assume they are going faster than that on landing) and keep it on target. I use a laser pointer in class from time to time and holding it steady on a target only 20 feet away, the dot tends to "wobble" a bit. So, is it reasonable that some kid could keep it on the plane while it is on approach? Second, how much power does a laser pointer have? I have never tried to measure the distance with mine, so I am not sure about this. Of course there is the issue of industrial lasers. I have no experience in that area, but if this is a terrorist plot, that could be a possibility.

This whole thing sounds a little hinky for me.