...confessed “I pointed it at the plane, yes, thinking it was a … (and his voice trailed off.)”
Tin hatters better move to IR (not that UFO's as alien craft aren't out there, somewhere) and even then don't flash anyone with night vision gear such as the police or military, there is also potential to harm someone regardless, if they are too close.
Another thing which has me concerned as a hobbyist, what if one of my neighbors flashes an airplane with their little 5mw pointer within a block of my place and then no one but the aircraft sees it, but when the police come looking my other neighbor says, yea, that guy, him, over in that house, I've seen him playing around with lasers pointing them into the night sky many times.... busted for someone else's wrong doing and will they believe him, hell yes. Don't do this at home folks, if you are going to point into the sky, do it somewhere away from home where no one knows you and you don't know anyone else and then leave. Also, don't flash UFO's or anything else with a visible light laser. The 10 mile distance from any airport is also something to watch out for, you can get into trouble without even having flashed an aircraft from that alone.
Edit: Regarding the tin hatters; there's something up there, look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FryZrDKwv_o