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FAA: Planes flying over Palo Alto, Mountain View hit by laser

 

Someone has been pointing lasers at the cockpits of jet aircraft flying over Palo Alto and Mountain View -- a potentially dangerous action that could interfere with the pilot's sight, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The latest incidents occurred Monday at around 10:15 p.m. near Mountain View and Palo Alto, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The two incidents were reported by flight crews traveling to San Francisco International Airport.

An Airbus 320 and an Embraer 170 were hit by a laser at 5,000 feet while heading north-northwest about three miles west of Moffett Federal Airfield. There were no injuries, but air traffic control notified the Palo Alto Police Department. Officers did not find the laser user despite a search of the area where crews believed the beams originated from.

A previous incident on Oct. 26 occurred in Palo Alto near Hanover Street and Foothill Expressway, police spokesman Aaron Sunseri said.

Penalties can be significant for anyone convicted, FAA spokesman Gregor said.

"Anyone who points a laser at an aircraft can face civil penalties from the FAA of up to $11,000 per incident," he said. "Deliberately pointing a laser at an aircraft also is a federal crime, punishable by up to five years in prison."

Aircraft were struck once by a laser beam originating in Palo Alto in 2015 and eight times over Mountain View, not including the two from Monday.

Through Oct. 16, the number of laser strikes at aircraft in three major Bay Area cities were San Jose, 83; San Francisco, 72; Oakland, 51, Gregor said.

Comments

13 people like this
Posted by Hermia
a resident of Triple El
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:10 am

That's on a par with drunkenly racing down the freeway, unforgivably idiotic and dangerous.

That said, is there any reason to conclude that the incidents are connected to airplane noise, or is that an assumption based on having another story that includes the word "airplane"? If people screwing around with pointing lasers at planes is a common enough occurrence that it's a federal crime, then maybe it's just that - people screwing around.


16 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:17 am

I doubt this is connected with airplane noise, it's more likely the same kind of morons who shine their laser pens on the screens of movie theaters just to be annoying. But I do find this kind of idle speculation in an article that without any evidence seems to insinuate or make a negative connection to something that is not proven related, such as the people who are annoyed by airplane noise could or would be responsible for something like this.

More and more I see little subliminal comments like this in the media, but particularly here that violate the standards of good journalism to make cheap shots, which along with the partisan deletions and edits really cast a bad light on Palo Alto Online, which used to not do stuff like this. Did FOX news buy up PAO while we were not looking?


16 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:24 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Comment
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:34 am

Lasers are used for exceedingly precise measurement equipment. It would be easier to locate the originator than with a shot spotter to find a gunshot.


12 people like this
Posted by grandmakk
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:46 am

"Aircraft have experienced one laser strike in 2015 and eight in Mountain View, not including the two from Monday."

Can someone explain what that "sentence" means? Another example of sloppy journalism?


7 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:48 am

With all of the satellite power we have maybe we need a stationary satellite over the area that will pick up and locate any laser activity. There should be an obvious fix for this if it is occurring on a regular basis.
A laser is hard to miss - someone must be seeing this when it is occurring and report it.

Possibly we should be looking into any actions for shows at Shoreline since they use a lot of special effects. Any other special effects that shoot up into the sky? Maybe we need a ban on that type special effects.


25 people like this
Posted by Carl Thomsen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2015 at 11:49 am

The article starts by stating that "one person is allegedly taking matter in their own hands". There is no mention of who is making this assumption. Is this just the Palo Alto Online staff making the allegation or has some police agency made this allegation. This is a serious crime so it seems the person(s) who made the allegation should be mentioned. If the staff just added this comment to make the article more interesting then a correction is in order if they want readers to rely on the reporting on any topic going forward.


12 people like this
Posted by cur mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 12, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Incredibly irresponsible. Find the perps and convict them. The laser company where I once worked made us wear glasses if we were even to enter a lab or test area.


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2015 at 6:31 pm

"With all of the satellite power we have maybe we need a stationary satellite over the area that will pick up and locate any laser activity."

Orbital dynamics don't permit that, but a cockpit laser-activated digital camera shouldn't be difficult or expensive to develop. Silicon Valley, get thyself to the workbenches!


5 people like this
Posted by Another Steve
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 12, 2015 at 7:00 pm

@ Curmudgeon
Yes, tied to GPS, it's a million $ idea.


2 people like this
Posted by Gleason
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2015 at 2:04 am

Looks like article was updated ..


1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2015 at 2:58 am

Much better. Just the facts, short and sweet, thank you PAO.


Posted by missile was ufo ! in palo!
a resident of South of Midtown

on Nov 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm


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13 people like this
Posted by It's the constant plane noise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 2:13 pm

I think all the plane noise is finally getting to someone. The noise is driving me crazy, for sure. 200 flights per day, constant whizzing in the air. And the FAA just doesn't care.


10 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 15, 2015 at 3:14 pm

The whirring in the air is relentless. Where did the planes fly before when our life was quiet and peaceful? Why did they change the routes?


4 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Palo Altan

It actually started in the late nineties, when planes were re-routed from San Mateo County down to Palo Alto.

It has only become worse in recent years, due the recovery from the recession first, and then the implementation of NextGen


6 people like this
Posted by It's the constant plane noise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm

@Just Passing Through: No, I've lived in Palo Alto since 2005. They were not flying as low - I don't recall hearing them. Here's hoping for another recession . . .


2 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 7:11 pm

@It's the constant plane noise

No. I have lived here since 1990. Before the mid-nineties, there were next to no commercial planes above Palo Alto. It started in the late nineties. Believe me, I noticed, as did many other Palo Altans then. Do a bit of googling and you will find traces of this.

True, they have lowered the planes some more recently.


3 people like this
Posted by Nothing to do with the "recovery"
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 7:12 pm


Most of the constant noise is from SFO.

SFO operations are actually down from years past The amount of SFO traffic has nothing to do with the "recovery."

It's a straight up shift of all SFO arrivals go over Palo Alto at lower altitudes.

Stop spreading the nonsense that it's the economy.

Surf Air and GA maybe is maybe the "recovery" - more rich people shuttling in private planes? Cheap gas who knows.....


3 people like this
Posted by It's the constant plane noise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Thanks for setting the record straight, Nothing.

So why are they flying lower now? Saves fuel?

Just Passing Through: It's become unbearable. Perhaps you and some others heard it in the late 90s, but it was nothing like it is now. I used to sit at my computer at home all day in 2007 and was never bothered by it. Now, I'm hearing 20 per hour. I heard they were formerly flying over the water instead.


3 people like this
Posted by tt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

They were flying higher. But I think the FAA somehow think it is safer to fly much lower and less steep after the Asiana accident


4 people like this
Posted by It's the constant plane noise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 8:46 pm

@tt: The Asiana plane accident was due to flying too low. It was human error because pilots rely on autopilot too much. Instead, the pilot was hand-flying the plane too low and too slow. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 9:08 pm

It's the constant plane noise

Since you did not live here in until 2005, you cannot tell us how things were here in the late 1990s! I am not saying things are not worse now. They are. But it has been a big issue since the late 1990s. It was not just some people bothered by noise. A group formed to fight the noise at the time. Its name was UPROAR. The PA City Council even got involved.

Please, do not tell me how things were back then when you do not know. It would be akin to people telling you that there is no problem now, that maybe some people are bothered but it is not a big deal. I certainly do not appreciate it.

Note that I am on your side on this. I suffer from the noise as well, but do not tell me it was not an issue before 2007, just because it was not an issue for YOU until 2007.


4 people like this
Posted by It's the constant plane noise
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2015 at 10:03 pm

@Just Passing Through: Perhaps it was an issue, but many of my senior neighbors who have lived here since the 70s said it is easily worse than ever because they used to hear it outside only, and from afar. Now, they fly so low that I hear it even with the television turned on.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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