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

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

Officers were dispatched to Sand Island on Wednesday evening to search for a suspect after reports that a hit plane had been hit by a laser strike.

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

Aviation officials confirm that there are more laser strikes 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 said a Delta Airlines flight to Seattle was reportedly illuminated by a green laser during takeoff from Honolulu airport.

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

Forman said that not only can the bright light emitted by a laser permanently damage a pilot‘s eyes, but it can also cause temporary blindness.

“Takeoff and landing are the most critical times,” Forman said. “You could theoretically cause an accident and lose hundreds of lives.”

Although no one was injured 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.

This is the highest number ever recorded.

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

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

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

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

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