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Old 01-13-2016, 07:27 PM #1
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Default Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

A coworker just told me about this recent news article from elsewhere in Michigan (link below). In a nutshell, a police helicopter was tagged by a green laser, and the beam was traced by the helicopter to a couple walking along some railroad tracks in the next city. The couple was then approached by law enforcement on the ground, and reports filed with federal authorities, but no arrests have been made yet.

I'm taking an interest in this news because it's here in my home state but......according to Google maps, these cities are 10-14 miles apart.

I realize that the laser can travel that distance, but how the heck do you even see / hear a helicopter a city 10-12 miles away, let alone be able to consistently hit it with a laser?

Am I missing something here guys??? What are your thoughts?
Thanks!

Laser beam targets Michigan State Police helicopter on routine patrol | MLive.com


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Old 01-13-2016, 07:36 PM #2
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

You can't. Yes it's possible you can hit a helicopter with a green laser 14 miles away, but I don't see any way to do that except by accident and that would be hard to believe. That would also not be a cheap low powered laser either.

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Old 01-13-2016, 07:41 PM #3
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

Took a look at the story just to make sure I got a good overview. I do agree with you on how you could hear a helicopter 10-12 miles away, unless you use some kind of aircraft tracker or have very good ears. Is it even possible to hear that far away?

As far as the laser goes, wouldn't the beam have diverged quite enough by such a point?

So many questions

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Old 01-13-2016, 07:41 PM #4
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffrey T View Post
A coworker just told me about this recent news article from elsewhere in Michigan (link below). In a nutshell, a police helicopter was tagged by a green laser, and the beam was traced by the helicopter to a couple walking along some railroad tracks in the next city. The couple was then approached by law enforcement on the ground, and reports filed with federal authorities, but no arrests have been made yet.

I'm taking an interest in this news because it's here in my home state but......according to Google maps, these cities are 10-14 miles apart.

I realize that the laser can travel that distance, but how the heck do you even see / hear a helicopter a city 10-12 miles away, let alone be able to consistently hit it with a laser?

Am I missing something here guys??? What are your thoughts?
Thanks!

Laser beam targets Michigan State Police helicopter on routine patrol | MLive.com
With the horizon being about 3 miles away, I find 10-12 miles to be a bit difficult to argue that they intentionally hit the aircraft. I didn't do the trigonometry to determine how high the aircraft would have to be to actually hit it 12 miles away.

Hmm well maybe after a bit of "research" http://contrailscience.com/how-far-a...that-contrail/ Yeah I guess it's quite possible, albeit likely difficult.
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:51 PM #5
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

Thanks for the responses guys! I thought about the helicopter's altitude too, although police patrol choppers don't usually flight too high. I posted the question in the comments to the news reporter for some clarification. The exact locations were not disclosed in the article, so who knows...

The prosecutor in the article does mention divergence (although he doesn't realize that's what it's called).

I'm looking out my office window with my cowerder / buddy, and we're trying to imagine even being aware of a helicopter flying in our adjacent city 5-7 miles away. lol
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Old 01-13-2016, 07:58 PM #6
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

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Originally Posted by Jeffrey T View Post
Thanks for the responses guys! I thought about the helicopter's altitude too, although police patrol choppers don't usually flight too high. I posted the question in the comments to the news reporter for some clarification. The exact locations were not disclosed in the article, so who knows...

The prosecutor in the article does mention divergence (although he doesn't realize that's what it's called).

I'm looking out my office window with my cowerder / buddy, and we're trying to imagine even being aware of a helicopter flying in our adjacent city 5-7 miles away. lol
I saw your comment on the article Jeffrey. Although the article I saw was almost a year old, it's a shame people do these kinds of things!

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Old 01-13-2016, 08:20 PM #7
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

Alex, I think the "stock / file" image they used at the top was a year old, the article was posted today I think.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:30 PM #8
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

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Originally Posted by Jeffrey T View Post
Alex, I think the "stock / file" image they used at the top was a year old, the article was posted today I think.
Ohhhh....that's not good

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Old 01-13-2016, 09:07 PM #9
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

These reporters know nothing about laser and the Physics behind it. They just throwing in random word to exaggerate.... before they go about theses kind of thing they need to check their facts and consult a physicist. They don't even have a picture of the laser in question.... And they can't even properly explain anything about divergence in the article.

Edit: there's no way that is 12 miles away. the picture show a tiny dot on the helicopter. at 12 miles it will spread like a flashlight....... i think around several hundred meter max.

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Old 04-17-2016, 03:28 PM #10
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

Yeah. I get you.

I am thinking of getting my first Laser- only 5 milliwatts [ accurately tested ] but
really concerned about Reports like this one.

Wild guess- Pilot saw a Beam not pointed directly but Reported it.

They got a read on the Source somehow and the Couple were in the approximate location but did not have a Laser and none was found nearby so no Arrest.

IF they had a Laser OR one found on Tracks anywhere near OR they admitted it was them ....Arrest.

1)Bored Pilot merely saw the Beam-not targeted.

2) Police tried to make Arrest but could not because no laser found and despite questioning the Couple SEPARATELY neither admitted they did it ( They probably did not do it- probably someone nearby and long gone ).

B) They probably told the Female IF she admitted it she would not be prosecuted if she testified...but was not the Couple for real- they had to let them go.

3) But very scary if you own a Laser and someone even SEES it from a distance- the Report is likely to be exaggerated I think once made....and the Police' job is to make an Arrest- scary IF you are legally pointing Laser at ANYTHING and some bored Person or Pilot files a Report.

I am trying to assess whether I should even buy a 5 milliwatt FDA safe laser because I will not be able to even CAREFULLY use it outside...

I am hoping that a 5 milliwatt will be invisible off Axis but probably not worth the risk to even get one.

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Old 04-17-2016, 03:39 PM #11
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertkoa View Post
Yeah. I get you.

I am thinking of getting my first Laser- only 5 milliwatts [ accurately tested ] but
really concerned about Reports like this one.

Wild guess- Pilot saw a Beam not pointed directly but Reported it.

They got a read on the Source somehow and the Couple were in the approximate location but did not have a Laser and none was found nearby so no Arrest.

IF they had a Laser OR one found on Tracks anywhere near OR they admitted it was them ....Arrest.

1)Bored Pilot merely saw the Beam-not targeted.

2) Police tried to make Arrest but could not because no laser found and despite questioning the Couple SEPARATELY neither admitted they did it ( They probably did not do it- probably someone nearby and long gone ).

B) They probably told the Female IF she admitted it she would not be prosecuted if she testified...but was not the Couple for real- they had to let them go.

3) But very scary if you own a Laser and someone even SEES it from a distance- the Report is likely to be exaggerated I think once made....and the Police' job is to make an Arrest- scary IF you are legally pointing Laser at ANYTHING and some bored Person or Pilot files a Report.

I am trying to assess whether I should even buy a 5 milliwatt FDA safe laser because I will not be able to even CAREFULLY use it outside...

I am hoping that a 5 milliwatt will be invisible off Axis but probably not worth the risk to even get one.
I really wouldn't worry much with 5 mw pointers. Past 50 or so feet I doubt you'd even be able to see the beam from the side.
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:31 PM #12
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

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I really wouldn't worry much with 5 mw pointers. Past 50 or so feet I doubt you'd even be able to see the beam from the side.
That would be great !
Seems like the Astronomy Laser Reviews tend to support this BUT on all the Internet I find very few Scientist Types who have really tried this even on Astronomy Sites ...
Described the off Axis and visibility etc.
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:43 PM #13
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

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That would be great !
Seems like the Astronomy Laser Reviews tend to support this BUT on all the Internet I find very few Scientist Types who have really tried this even on Astronomy Sites ...
Described the off Axis and visibility etc.
Trust me. You'll be fine star pointing with 5mw lasers unless you're really looking for trouble.
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:48 PM #14
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

I will not be pointing at any constellations, I will keep my lasers in the yard from my 2nd story window facing down, but not in the sky at all, there are drones loitering around as well, it sucks, but it's not worth the risk, find a big open field but keep em out of the skies.
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:53 PM #15
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

I still cannot recall anyone getting in trouble purely for star pointing. Seems like they're always doing 'something' more than that.
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:58 PM #16
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Default Re: Recent News & Question About Aircraft Distance

I just feel like we have less and less freedom, and people need to understand that even if you don't light up a cockpit they will still genedrate a report and window film and electronic optical locating equipment will be on planes, so you don't want to point at a star with a aircraft anywhere around at all.

You might pay for what some idiot running around an apartment complex got away with just because you own a house.

Just a warning.
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