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Old 07-20-2012, 04:54 AM   #1
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Default Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

The question has been asked a thousand times, but, no matter how hard I look, I can't seem to find a direct answer. I see yes, I see no and "it's only illegal if you get caught" . So what is it ?

Is it YES

Or is it NO

as in, if a police saw you pointing it in the sky, would they arrest you? I'm aware it's illegal to point them at vehicles, aircrafts, and people, but what if your just pointing it in the sky for fun? I live in Goleta, California.

Thanks for reading
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

I may be corrected on this.

But technically, I think anything over 5mw isn't legal to use outside no matter where you point it unless you have a variance.

Someone from PL could probably tell you more though.
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:40 AM   #3
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

So if I lived within 10 miles of the airport, its illegal to point a 150mw greeny around? And if I was no where near an airport it would be legal?
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:55 AM   #4
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

That sounds good just to be safe, whether or not it's legal is up in the air it would seem.

it sounds like you would be legal with any power as long as your not doing a laser show or surveying something


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So if I lived within 10 miles of the airport, its illegal to point a 150mw greeny around? And if I was no where near an airport it would be legal?
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

In a nutshell, it seems like: if nothing happens, you'll be fine.
If something happens: you're in deep sh*t

My personal advice would be to take a drive to a local park and use your laser there. If you see a plane, just leave the park. In all honesty, unless you seriously cause an accident, the police aren't gonna do full forensics to catch the infamous star-pointer of Goleta California.

Don't let the thought of getting away with it make you more lax about safety. BE SAFE. You could potentially (worst case scenario) put the lives of hundreds of people in jeopardy. Did I mention to keep safe? Just Checkin'.
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

@Mac - Since it looks like you did the research on this recently, any idea if there are any laws regarding possession of a laser pointer?
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:47 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

Thanks for the help guys I just needed to know, for, when I get a new laser, the first thing I do is see how visible at night.

Oh and also, just the other day, I was testing a 5mw greenie for visibility and I accidentally hit my neighbors front yard palm tree for a second. He came out and threatened to call the cops if I didn't stop waving it around.

Obviously, I stopped waving it around to avoid the police, but is it legal to point lasers at people's property? I haven't read any law against it, but I wouldn't point lasers at peoples stuff on purpose just to be safe.

I don't think I'll be outside with lasers anymore if this proves to be illegal...
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Old 07-25-2012, 02:17 PM   #8
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

You're in a murky area as far as pointing it at property. Is there a law specifically against it? No.

Can he claim that you were shining it at his windows to harass him? Yes.

Sounds like you have a jackass of a neighbor. Best to avoid him, and point in the other direction.
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Old 07-26-2012, 07:04 AM   #9
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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Originally Posted by InfinitusEquitas View Post
Sounds like you have a jackass of a neighbor
Yup, I use to have a great neighbor, but they moved out and was replaced by a family of asshats . I think what Quetzal said was the best solution, (Thanks Quetzal! ) I think I'll be doing that now to avoid conflicts.
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Old 07-26-2012, 03:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

And thanks isaidhi for making another thread I was confused myself xD
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Old 07-30-2012, 08:43 PM   #11
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidhi3 View Post
Thanks for the help guys I just needed to know, for, when I get a new laser, the first thing I do is see how visible at night.

Oh and also, just the other day, I was testing a 5mw greenie for visibility and I accidentally hit my neighbors front yard palm tree for a second. He came out and threatened to call the cops if I didn't stop waving it around.

Obviously, I stopped waving it around to avoid the police, but is it legal to point lasers at people's property? I haven't read any law against it, but I wouldn't point lasers at peoples stuff on purpose just to be safe.

I don't think I'll be outside with lasers anymore if this proves to be illegal...

I'm paranoid about this one, even though we have good neighbors I never allow any beam to cross my own property line. I use my shed or the tree as a beam stop.
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Old 09-09-2012, 04:40 AM   #12
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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Originally Posted by cgchaser View Post
I'm paranoid about this one, even though we have good neighbors I never allow any beam to cross my own property line. I use my shed or the tree as a beam stop.
This picture Brings up a question. What if the neighbor peeks over the fence or through the slots in the fence? Will they be at risk for retinal damage if looking st the lbeam on the barn?
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:47 AM   #13
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

It really depends on how reflective that barn side is. It's probably okay since I doubt that barn is shiny, but without measurements, it's hard to determine.
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:24 PM   #14
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

Quote:
Originally Posted by isaidhi3 View Post
Thanks for the help guys I just needed to know, for, when I get a new laser, the first thing I do is see how visible at night.

Oh and also, just the other day, I was testing a 5mw greenie for visibility and I accidentally hit my neighbors front yard palm tree for a second. He came out and threatened to call the cops if I didn't stop waving it around.

Obviously, I stopped waving it around to avoid the police, but is it legal to point lasers at people's property? I haven't read any law against it, but I wouldn't point lasers at peoples stuff on purpose just to be safe.

I don't think I'll be outside with lasers anymore if this proves to be illegal...
Your neighbors are mean, All of my neighbors thought it was cool when I brought out my laser a few times. I believe it is legal to shine it at the sky, as long as it isn't at aircraft.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:20 AM   #15
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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Originally Posted by madmacmo View Post
Here's where US Federal law gets a bit ambiguous about "Outdoor Laser Use"

LaserPointerSafety.com -U.S.: Illegal to aim laser pointers at aircraft or their flight path




So it is subject to interpretation within the law above for civil penalties for shining a laser into an "aircraft's flight path" with enforcement by the FAA through local police/sheriff/constables.

LaserPointerSafety.com - US: Latest 2012 laser/aircraft incident statistics



Note that any laser beam visible by a pilot during flight can and will be reported as a “laser incident”, regardless of whether it is an actual hazard or not, nor whether it is logical or reasonable for the FAA to track it as a valid aircraft “laser incident.

So in consideration of the above, the apparent risk of any outdoor skyward laser use (while being well outside the FAA defined laser free space around an airport) would be:
) To inadvertently illuminate an "unseen" aircraft or its flight path (Obviously aircraft at high altitude at night may not be readily distinguishable from the back ground of stars, where enough time should be spent scanning the sky to make certain the area the laser will be directed is free and clear of any aircraft's signature tell-tale point of light movements)
) If the laser beam is observed and reported by an aircraft pilot as a FAA-reportable laser incident

So how much effort will the FAA exert to enforce either of the above is probably not very great. The one thing I am concerned about is how many of us in using our laser pointers outdoors have contributed to the FAA's “laser incident” running total of events.

Otherwise, it should be noted that the general public seems to often call the police when any outside laser use is witnessed. Case in point, I have seen several local accounts reported in the police log section of the news where individuals made such reports and officers were dispatched to investigate, although I am unaware of any local laws against such use. Law enforcement have also been known to arrest first only to let the court system work it out.

I don't know if any of this helps or not as this is just my take on the subject, where I am not a lawyer and my 2 cents may be overvalued.

If you, or anyone else have any questions about aviation, FAA, etc - feel free to contact me. I am an airline Transport Pilot - and was an FAA accident Prevention Counselor.

I have never seen a pilot report a laser event unless the beam was directed directly into the cockpit window.

I can also tell you, where there are multiple events, there are laser tracking helicopters dispatched that can use several seconds of Lansing to triangulate the location of the offending laser to within 15 feet. People have been caught.

Certain airports have a higher rate of occurrences and in some cases I have even seen NOTAMS ( notices to airmen) warning of - and asking for reports if it occurs.

I am new here but not new to lasers. I built mu own lasers 20 years ago. I am interested in getting back into it (it seems a lot easier to build these days) and much much cheaper too. 1-2 watts for a couple hundred dollars. That was unheard of in the 1990's.

This is my first post - hope to learn a lot from you - and hope I can help any way I can

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Old 01-07-2013, 06:10 PM   #16
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

Welcome to LPF!

Lasers have come down in price incredibly over the past few years. The kind of power you could produce now is astonishing compared to what was available only 5-6 years ago, from a price point perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captainjman View Post
I have never seen a pilot report a laser event unless the beam was directed directly into the cockpit window.

I can also tell you, where there are multiple events, there are laser tracking helicopters dispatched that can use several seconds of Lansing to triangulate the location of the offending laser to within 15 feet. People have been caught.
That's good to know... I always wonder how inflated the reports are, considering that by the book at least, any time a pilot sees a laser beam, not just direct hit to the cockpit, they are supposed to report it.

I would imagine, unless ground units are dispatched right away, too many people would get away with it though.

Have you heard of any non green laser pointer incidents?
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:27 PM   #17
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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Originally Posted by InfinitusEquitas View Post
Welcome to LPF!

Lasers have come down in price incredibly over the past few years. The kind of power you could produce now is astonishing compared to what was available only 5-6 years ago, from a price point perspective.



That's good to know... I always wonder how inflated the reports are, considering that by the book at least, any time a pilot sees a laser beam, not just direct hit to the cockpit, they are supposed to report it.

I would imagine, unless ground units are dispatched right away, too many people would get away with it though.

Have you heard of any non green laser pointer incidents?

Most of the incidents I have heard about came out of the New York area, specifically LaGuardia (KLGA) - It probably has a lot to do with the density of people. There are other areas that have laser tracking teams ready, and they have the ability to triangulate the location of the laser to within maybe 10-20 feet. Some people have done this from their backyards and of course couldn't run away from the police. But even those on mountain tops, or forest preserves where the population density is sparse get caught because they cant evade the tracking fast enough.

When you fly at night the lights in the cockpit are turned very low, so that you can easily see the ground and other traffic. If a laser hits your eyes and your eyes are in low light (pupil wide open) - it doesn't have to do permanent damage to really cause a problem (especially on arrival and departure).

I have seen lasers pointed at my plane at altitude and never even reported it. At that distance, approximately 7 miles up and from directly above the laser it is difficult to shine into the cockpit. As the laser gets more offset from directly below, the distance increases rapidly. By the time it is at an angle it can even enter the cockpit and reach the eye it may be 100 miles away.. and by even 7 miles up through the haze and pollution layers it is barely even noticeable and the dot is measured in feet not mm's

I look forward to answering more questions, I have to go.

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Old 01-07-2013, 08:03 PM   #18
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

IMO every cockpit should have a fairly high power laser for use as self-defence by the pilots against any attempt to disrupt or God-forbid- highjack any aircraft- any lasering like this cannot do any damage to the aircraft(unlike a firearm) and would be very easy to use only on the bad guy(s) and if some lasering happened to hit any of the other passengers it would not be all that harmful and a good trade-off IMO to getting highjacked.

I am also of the opinion that police should be armed with a laser- it would surely be non-lethal, very effective and not all that expensive. I have shown my lasers to several law enforcement friends and every one agreed. Some considered getting one on their own and carrying it.

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Old 01-08-2013, 03:25 AM   #19
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

There are many defense mechanisms in place which I cannot disclose for obvious reasons. If all the other defenses were not effective a laser wouldn't be a good enough weapon unfortunately. It is a very small space and by the time they entered the cockpit only deadly force should be used. Perhaps a built in laser outside the cockpit - but it would not be a last line of defense option.

Despite what you've seen or heard - a bullet hole in the hull of the plane will not be a very big deal. In a small plane like a regional jet - even if it did put a hole it wouldn't cause a rapid decompression. I've had entire door seals fail and we were able to maintain cabin pressure even at high altitude.

Before 911 I would have agreed with you - but now we have to treat any attempt as a suicide attack and not just a diversion to a different destination and being held for ransom. Sad isn't it?

But I digress - back to lasers, while I cannot give you legal advice - I would say to be very cognizant of aircraft and make sure no laser is pointed in the general direction - not even sweeping or for just a second. I have used lasers in the past and used them to point at stars, the moon, etc.

To those thinking that because they got away with it before they are untouchable - I would warn that those caught have been charged with serious crimes including interference with flight crews in flight - a federal (not local or statutory) felony, as well as various other violations under 14 CFR.

I wouldn't mind seeing FA armed with lasers - since they are non lethal - if it were to fall into the wrong hands it wouldn't be too horrible.

From what I have read so far on this site - no one wants to hurt anyone. Keep in mind that when we fly at night we dim our cockpit and instruments to extremely low levels. If hit my even low power lasers the eyes would take a while to see again - and may loose the ability to see other traffic, control the plane or inadvertently creat a CFIT accident. Unlike aircraft enroute - aircraft below 10,000' MSL are at the highest risk. In rare occupancies temporary blindness (like looking into a flashlight at night and being unable to see things for a while)- may last so long it won't dissipate in time for landing - which is really bad. You may not know this but only very large - long range aircraft have auto land capabilities. Most aircraft do not.

Also - most small aircraft like pipers and cessnas do not have even a basic autopilot. If a pilot was mistaking lay hit with laser radiation it could be fatal within seconds.

Same goes for low ceilings (low cloud cover) - listen for aircraft before shining into these as well. As you know lasers can penetrate quite far in fog - and clouds are identical to fog except in its height above the ground.

----- by the way ----

If you are looking for fog conditions - just look at the temperature - dew point. If they are within 5 degrees of each other fog is very likely. If you notice these are 10 degrees or so apart and the sun has not yet set. - you know the temperature is about to fall

There are many types of fog. You can look it up on google. Upslope, radiation advection and radiation are a few. If you learn more about them you may better find the condition you want.

Also, with high pressure there is more "dirt" in the air -

If you want more information please ask. I know I need help making or buying my next laser. About 20 years ago I made lasers out of everything I could get my hands on. Hene, jello, co2 etc. I want a 250-500mw green for starters - please help me. Get back into it

J
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Old 01-08-2013, 04:43 AM   #20
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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If you want more information please ask. I know I need help making or buying my next laser. About 20 years ago I made lasers out of everything I could get my hands on. Hene, jello, co2 etc. I want a 250-500mw green for starters - please help me. Get back into it

J
There is a group buy going on right now for skylasers: http://laserpointerforums.com/f55/ro...buy-79091.html

You may want to also check out Jetlasers.

Both of these companies offer great lasers, at good prices. There is simply no comparing them to either the budget laser companies, or the drop shippers who can't tell a a flashlight from a laser.

Edit: As defenses for the cockpit go, I like the El Al approach...

Last edited by InfinitusEquitas; 01-08-2013 at 04:44 AM.
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Old 01-09-2013, 03:54 AM   #21
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

I would recommend checking websites that display where planes are live with tracking then you know weather or not to shine above you.
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Old 01-10-2013, 05:53 PM   #22
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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Originally Posted by InfinitusEquitas View Post
There is a group buy going on right now for skylasers: http://laserpointerforums.com/f55/ro...buy-79091.html

You may want to also check out Jetlasers.

Both of these companies offer great lasers, at good prices. There is simply no comparing them to either the budget laser companies, or the drop shippers who can't tell a a flashlight from a laser.

Edit: As defenses for the cockpit go, I like the El Al approach...
Omg - I put all this info and all of a sudden the page refreshed and poof - all this great info gone. I will answer later -

In the mean time - this site for burning man posted links to forms that will get you laser show approval from the FAA

ePlaya ? View topic - Who's done a NOTAM at Burning Man?

Jason
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Old 01-13-2013, 11:28 PM   #23
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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Originally Posted by Th3SiNz View Post
I would recommend checking websites that display where planes are live with tracking then you know weather or not to shine above you.
That may work if you live in a rural area, but the position displayed on sites like flightaware.com lags a bit. For security reasons the exact position is never displayed.

Don't forget that military and government aircraft (air force 1 for example) are not always displayed on aircraft tracking websites. Heck, some of the aircraft don't even show up on Radar (F22, B2, etc).

If you see anything in the sky that is moving, it makes sense not to aim directly at it.

Also, when it comes to satellites - many of them have ccd cameras and sensors similar to ccd's - and if you shine even a relatively low powered laser directly into the sensor - it can permanently damage the sensor. You can imagine how much damage could be done in just a few seconds.

I would like to know about warnlaser.com - anyone have any feedback?

J
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:11 AM   #24
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

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I would like to know about warnlaser.com - anyone have any feedback?

J
Yup, not a good company. Lasers are overpriced, and typically underspec.

Go with a known company (Laserglow, optronics, jetlasers, slylasers, or on the lower end lazerer, and o-like) or a forum builder instead.
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:51 AM   #25
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Default Re: Is it legal to point a 150mw green laser in the sky? In the US?

Thanks for the heads up. Was about to get a green laser from them.

I have been thinking about using lasers in the cockpit. I still think it makes a lousy weapon against terrorism, but I see the potential for search & rescue.

In those roles every little bit can help - daylight best wavelength is around 555 and night is 505nm (if memory serves). I would like to test out a double laser in one rig, one for daylight and one for dark.

If anyone wants to make one I can test it and share results

J
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