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View Poll Results: When is it ok to shine a visible laser straight into the sky?
<=5mW 5 7.35%
<=10mW 1 1.47%
<=20mW 0 0%
<=50mW 1 1.47%
<=100mW 0 0%
any power 44 64.71%
never 17 25.00%
Voters: 68. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-08-2010, 01:39 AM #1
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Default Learn to use the multiquote and the edit buttons

There was a post in the 445nM forum by a user than removed the 24 diode array from a casio projector. he had it running outside of the projector and posted pictures of the beam across his yard. one pictured showed it shining into the sky and in his post he said "i made sure to check that there were no aircraft".

I posted sugesting never ever to shine a laser, especially a powerful one, into the sky regardless if you check for aircraft or not. the reason is because i have been following news on lasers being pointed into the sky and the reaction of pilots. i am not a pilot, however these sitings by pilots have been made when they have seen the beams perpendicular to the source. and in these sitings they often say how much of a distraction it is. the advice is to never shine a laser into the sky. and to me it just seems logical.

now, what concerns me is that the two posts right after speak harshly towards my post saying its bunk and that my advice is not to be followed. this concerns me because it contravenes everything we are being told by those that are affected by these actions, which is to never shine them in the sky. my concern is that users of this forum (most?) feel the same way as these posters and that perhaps younger laser enthusiasts than i are not on the same page and perhaps i should find a forum with more tenured more safety oriented enthusiasts?

opinions?

Ok well as a friend on facebook said, "Pointing the laser in the sky is the best way to measure the distance of the moon. We need to know if the sky is falling."

I had forgotten about that one.



Last edited by daguin; 09-20-2010 at 08:28 PM. Reason: Merged double post
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:09 PM #2
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

If you want to know if the sky is falling, listen to Glen Beck and don't forget to wear your aluminum foil hat. "Be scared. Be very scared." Yeah, right.
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Old 07-08-2010, 03:44 PM #3
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

sorry to be a nitpicker... but the wording of the poll question doesn't really make sense looking at given choices. either way, i voted "any power"

i have a 90mw greenie, i did a test with my bro a while ago... when i point it straight up into the sky, and he is 1 block away, he cannot see the beam at all. i confirmed this by switching positions with him.


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Old 07-08-2010, 04:18 PM #4
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

I did not vote for any... there are even circumstances when 5mw can be a pest. It depends on the circumstances for each power level. Eventually, you just need a variance.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:29 PM #5
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

Pointing lasers into the sky and outside in general is one of the best ways to show off and have fun with them after it gets boring burning stuff with it. If done safely it's harmless and great fun. Any pilot who would get distracted just by seeing a beam pointing into the sky and crash probably shouldn't be flying to begin with.
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Old 07-08-2010, 05:39 PM #6
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

Any of those powers are safe to point into the sky so long as
you are first certain that there are not any planes in the area
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Old 07-08-2010, 08:19 PM #7
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

As long as your not "tracking" an aircraft you are fine. I scan WATTS into the sky very often for HOURS at a time.
And whenever I go out to just "play" I go to the lakefront where we have the cost guard paroling in their helicopters and I have never had a problem with them.

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Old 07-09-2010, 05:35 PM #8
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

I don't do it during the daytime or at dusk, only if the sun is all the way down. It's hard to see those planes that are really high up unless it's dark enough to see their strobes. Not like they can see the laser from there anyways, but nighttime is still the easiest time to see if there is a plane in the area.
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Old 07-09-2010, 10:21 PM #9
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

Just doing a little research. This is a good thread:

California laser owners

And there is this article (i am in Canada).

Pilots urge tougher penalties for laser attacks - CTV News

At first I was highly skeptical of the whole searing pain comment but then I realized he was flying near an observatory so its possible the people in the observatory had a multiple-100mW laser and pointed it straight into the cockpit. There might be enough power density to cause this kind of damage.

And this is a good blog article

dahn batchelor's opinions: Can laser pointers really blind pilots?
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:06 PM #10
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

Here we can call the airport(i live in West TX) and can request rerouting of airline traffic like through places where they can affect schools or whatever(noise). I would guess an observatory could also request that traffic flow differently. Either way whenever I shine to the stars and planets out there checking for planes doesn't just mean "o.k. the sky is clear". I check and check and check some more. After all we are talking about a felony here. You got to be REAL sure.
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Old 07-09-2010, 11:59 PM #11
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by KGB_Productions View Post
As long as your not "tracking" an aircraft you are fine. I scan WATTS into the sky very often for HOURS at a time.
And whenever I go out to just "play" I go to the lakefront where we have the cost guard paroling in their helicopters and I have never had a problem with them.

-Brooks
I had to vote any power on this one because I don't think you can just put a blanket statement on whether you should or shouldn't. It all depends is you live near or around an airport and as KGB said about "tracking" aircraft, thats a big NO-NO.

If I see a plane in the sky, I usually don't point skyward.
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Old 07-10-2010, 12:03 AM #12
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

I don't know if airplanes could really see the perpendicular beam at those elevations. Even a green laser seems to abruptly "stop" at the planetary boundary layer. That's about 100m above the ground at night, and beyond that there are far fewer aerosols in the air to scatter the light.
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Old 07-10-2010, 08:16 AM #13
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

There is a difference between pointing it into the sky and deliberately pointing it at an aircraft.

The issue is not with casual pointing and stargazing, it's the kids that deliberately point the laser at an aircraft flying at low altitude or trying to take off or land.

I'm not saying it's ever okay to point a laser at an aircraft, but with class III lasers (most "pointers" are class III) the power output is so low and the divergence is so great, that the common assumption by the general public in thinking that the laser will even temporarily "blind" the pilot is simply untrue.

Again I'm not saying it's okay, but if the plane is at least 3000ft away, which is considered low altitude flying, and is actually pretty close not to notice, and the pointing was unintentional, at best the pilot would only see a dim flash. By then the laser would have diverged to over 10ft in diameter and it's luminosity would have been no greater than an average flashlight. I'm no pilot, but I hardly think that would jeopardize the aircraft. If it was unintentional it's hardly jeopardizing. I can understand how seeing the laser at a distance perpendicular to the ground can be distracting but surly no more distracting that search lights or the countless night lights of the city. In that case the distraction is not deliberate. There is a difference between getting distracted and being distracted.

Deliberate pointing is a matter of concern of course. A laser that is only a couple hundred mW at a few hundred feet does have the capability to impair vision. Had your question added "... withing 5 miles of an airport", then I'd say no it's not okay.

My argument is that should an aircraft to be too far away to notice by someone on the ground, which will easily be over a mile away, it will hardly be impairing by even a powerful pointer if it was indeed unintentional.

The casual "look around the night sky for planes" drill we all do before we shine any laser into the sky is precaution enough IMO. The general public often fears what they misunderstand. Most people will shun away from powerful lasers and regard them as dangerous toys. Even experienced hobbyists are regarded as immature if seen using them, and because of this unfortunately, the general authorities will immediately assume that "that guy over there with the laser is nothing more than a trouble maker pointing his laser at planes" without considering the possibility that no such planes are even in the vicinity. People just like to complain about things.

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Old 07-10-2010, 08:34 AM #14
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

I voted any power, But once we get a good lens for the 445 running at >1 watt that is a whole other story. Even though your hand shakes enough to not track anything farther than 50ft and probably would only hit the underside of a plane if at all.
But the post by Xplorer877 sums it up.
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Old 07-10-2010, 11:58 AM #15
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

I am a pilot, and for the first time just this summer, I was "tracked" at a low altitude by a cheap green. (Over Denver ~ 7500ft MSL. (~1800ft AGL) near DIA/KDEN) I was in Class Bravo with a strict heading given by control, so I couldn't do much to avoid it.

While it was -very- unnerving, I pretty much just concentrated on instruments until I was out of his (Rather unsteady at that distance) range.

I thought about posting it on here, but I'm not really one to kick up drama, and while it was curious, it didn't cause much trouble. The beam was so diffuse at that point it was really little more than a confusion/orientation/distraction issue than an optical issue.

That said, from my point of view:

-If I saw a laser being shined into the sky at a distance, I wouldn't really care. Is that just because I'm an LPF member? ... maybe. None of the other pilots I hang around, I believe, would report a beam seen 10, 30, 50 miles away. We see lots of things at night. Most would go "oh look. A laser."

-I don't want to diminish the effect at altitude, as after that green (It DOES light up the entire cockpit, even if monentarily, and when you're dark-adjusted, even a not-so-amazingly-intense green light can blow that all to hell.) I could see myself getting dizzy from the shaky movement. Imagine you're flying at night, concentrating on navaids and what control is trying to tell you (sometimes there are a lot of other planes in the area) and suddenly a disco ball drops from your cockpit and the small space turns into a mini rave. That's kind of what it's like. Was I at risk of collision? No. Vectoring into another aircraft's path due to confusion? Could happen. Didn't.

-The above stated, I'm more worried about this kind of thing on approach and landing. Say, from a field near the airport, or a nearby hotel. That.. would be bad. Really bad. When I'm coming in on final and I'm 500 AGL, some joker with a PGL picking "low hanging fruit" to "see what happens" is probably the one scenario I hope I never encounter. The last thing you need at that moment is to get pegged (even temporarily) in one eye, and lose all depth perception. Runways look different at night, the only sense of distance you have comes from your eyes focusing on the perspective/parallax of the runway. There's not much margin for error. (The common adage of 'modern planes land themselves' isn't quite true. Modern planes 'get on and stay on glide slope' themselves. Landing, in those last few seconds, is always an issue of experience and finesse.)

I will say though with all reality and seriousness though: If you don't see a or hear plane,

-It's too high for it to matter
-There is no plane.

And few if any pilots are going to veer off course and check out your beam just to snitch to the FAA.

Helicopters, I cannot speak for. I've never flown one, they generally operate far lower, and are far more maneuverable.

But overall, as a pilot, if you make sure no planes are around, I don't really care if you shoot your beam into the sky, even if I can see it.

Other pilots' MMV. We're just folks. There are people on the road who get infuriated if they see someone going 57mph in a 55mph. And there are pilots who would likely lose their sh*t if they saw a laser in the sky 5 miles to the east.

I think though, overall, most would not care, if you're not endangering them.

Please do not confuse this with the other posts i've made on the matter, of aviation and lasers being a serious problem. They are. But yes, the issue is mainly low-altitude tracking, on takeoff or landing, or in the case of helicopters, low altitude tagging/tracking in general.

In addition to optical/visual problems, as I explained before, lasers can be confused with emergency tower light gun signals, or runway/airport lighting, which is another problem alltogether.

But in general, "airplanes at cruise" and the pilots in them are not going to be your problem. We're not the Sky Police or the Laser Police. Use common sense and watch for aircraft, make sure the area is clear, and you're golden.

A bigger concern would be neighbors seeing it and calling the police, than a distant pilot seeing it and contacting the FAA.

Hopefully I didn't water down the seriousness of this issue. In summary, I don't believe you should "never point your laser into the sky". Just don't be an idiot about it, at any power output.

As was said above by Xplorer877,

Quote:
The issue is not with casual pointing and stargazing, it's the kids that deliberately point the laser at an aircraft flying at low altitude or trying to take off or land.
Correct.
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Last edited by aryntha; 07-10-2010 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 07-10-2010, 03:30 PM #16
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Default Re: Lasers and aircraft

Here, I'll copy my other post over for those who skip links.


Some of the laser safety rules indicate thresholds for distraction at 50 nanowatts per square centimeter, so you really can reach out, with even a marginal laser some times. Nanowatt, for those who need a visual aide, is a decimal point, 8 zeros, and a one. (.000000001) Which just proves how amazing the creator was when he made the human eye.

The following is nice, simple, way to keep safe, however it does not handle helos.


Here is me quoting me:

[quote

How about following FAA guidelines to make your decision to use?

Evaluate if your within 5-7 miles of a Airport. If you are, keep it out of airspace, if its more then a few milliwatts.
Nice simple rule... Based on FAA's own rules for outdoor use of lasers.

Find a FAA "sectional" chart on line for your area, example,

Here is a partial FAA sectional for LA:

AeroPlanner.com

Purple solid circles with lines in them are airports. Circles with "H" in them are heliports. Purple solid circles with bigger yellow circles around them are controlled airspace airports, ie the larger airports.


Wicki has a picture for once.

File:FAA laser-free-zone.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is not a 100% cure, as the flight routes into the airport may take a aircraft over your location, but its a start.

How's that for a simple answer?

This doesn't cover local laws, nor is it a 100% fix, but it is a start.

Steve quote]
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