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Is simply shining a Class 3+ laser into the sky illegal?

steve001

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Generally speaking, it's not illegal unless you're close to an airport or flight paths.
What is this opinion based upon?
 

steve001

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as far as i know in most places in the US its illegal to shine lasers into the sky if youre within 10 miles of an airport. idk anything about flight paths though
How do you know that? Did you read an official federal government document. If so name it or link to it.
 

Rivem

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as far as i know in most places in the US its illegal to shine lasers into the sky if youre within 10 miles of an airport. idk anything about flight paths though
Yeah, I've never heard anything about that being illegal on the federal level. The only thing it says in the FAA rules is not in the path or at an aircraft. You definitely shouldn't shine one into the sky close (within line of sight) to an airport since it'd look like that, but 10 miles is excessive.
 

paul1598419

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I think this is the result of all the fear mongering about laser pointers. The only laws I'm aware of are it is illegal to try to injure a person with a laser or to point it at air traffic or cars, or any sort of manned transportation in an effort to cause an accident. Otherwise, there are few laws concerning the use of laser pointers.
 

Alaskan

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lasers_and_aviation_safety

The U.S. FAA has established airspace zones. These protect the area around airports and other sensitive airspace from the hazards of safe-but-too-bright visible laser light exposure:

The Laser Free Zone extends immediately around and above runways, as depicted at right. Light irradiance within the zone must be less than 50 nanowatts per square centimeter (0.05 microwatts per square centimeter). This was set at "a level that would not cause any visual disruption."

The Critical Flight Zone covers 10 nautical miles (NM) around the airport; the light limit is 5 microwatts per square centimeter (μW/cm²). This "was determined to be the level at which significant glare problems can occur."

The optional Sensitive Flight Zone is designated by the FAA, military or other aviation authorities where light intensity must be less than 100 μW/cm². This might be done for example around a busy flight path or where military operations are taking place. This "was identified as the level of exposure at which significant flash blindness and afterimages could interfere with a pilot's visual performance."

The Normal Flight Zone covers all other airspace. The light intensity must be less than 2.5 milliwatts per square centimeter (2500 μW/cm²). This is about half of the Class 3R power level, and is not considered...
News to me:

Reporting

In the U.S., those persons operating outdoor lasers are requested to file reports with the FAA at least 30 days in advance, detailing their laser power(s). They must reference their operation location with respect to local airports and describe the laser power emitted within the Sensitive, Critical and Laser Free zones. Note that it is possible to use lasers whose output exceeds the limits of these zones, if other control measures are in place. For example, spotters could be used to watch for aircraft, and turn off the laser if a potential conflict is sighted. (This raises separate issues about the number, training and effectiveness of the spotters; the FAA must be satisfied that these issues are answered for the particular operation.)

FAA Advisory Circular 70-1[32] "Outdoor Laser Operations" contains two forms plus instructions. One form is a "Notice of Proposed Laser Operations", the other is a "Laser Configuration Worksheet" which is filled out for each laser or each different laser configuration. The FAA will review the report, and will either send a letter of objection or will send a letter of non-objection. The language is important; the FAA does not "approve" or "disapprove" as this implies a higher level of regulatory authority which the FAA does not have.

If the laser use is for a show or display in the U.S., there is a more stringent regulatory process. In the U.S., any use of lasers in a show or display requires pre-approval from the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health. This is required both for the laser equipment, and separately for the show itself (site, audience configuration, beam effects, etc.). As part of the CDRH's show approval ("variance") process, the CDRH will require a letter of non-objection from the FAA. Without this, the laser show cannot legally proceed.

In the U.S., laser activity in a given area is communicated to pilots before their flight via a NOTAM.[20] Pilots exposed to a laser or bright light during flight should follow Advisory Circular 70-2[33] "Reporting of Laser Illumination of Aircraft".

UK laser operators report outdoor laser, searchlight or firework operations at least 28 days in advance, using the Notification Form found in annex A of the CAP 736 document.[31]
 
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dden4012

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The possibility of a number of variables happening keep my outside lasing short and infrequent with the paranoia of a muskrat far from its borrow. Too many birds in the sky. Only takes one time. Plus I don't want the mosquitoes flying away with my laser.
 

Alaskan

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If one lived away from airports in a rural area, as long as you were infrequent and watched for aircraft, you probably will never have a problem. Edit: Or wait for a foggy day, or a day the cloud layer is very low. In my avatar there is a photo of me shining a 4 watt 532 nm laser into the sky with a bulge at the end of the beam, it was a foggy night, no way I was going to cause problems for anyone that night. The fog was just 20 feet off the ground, that's why the beam looks normal until it hits the fog. Other nights, no fog, my pix are old, but the requirement to report operation might have been in place at that time, I didn't know.
 
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paul1598419

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I am about 20 miles from SeaTac airport and only see flights as tiny running lights far in the distance at night. I haven't been taking out door beam shots lately as it is too much of a hassle for me to set it all up, but I did take many years ago when I was getting around a lot better. It is pretty easy to see the flight lanes around here at night, but impossible during the day. I would still go out and do some night time beam shots if they were exceptional and worth the extra effort. It is much easier for me to do indoor beam shots now as it takes a lot less effort.
 
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well in my place i live in a city where are flight lines above me but the airport is outside of the city so the aircrafts fly low enough to see them clearly and also hear the noise, i only do beamshots abit late at night and im still afraid because 1 time i heard an angry voice of an old man(never noticed exactly where he was) and last thing i want is someone call the cops and find a class 3+ laser in my house.
i dont know about the exact laws but i suggest you to use your lasers as private as you can and avoid as many eyes as you can
 
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Alaskan

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It's not illegal to own or build lasers at any power, what is illegal is to manufacture completed pointers for sale above 5 mw output.

I imagine, in time there might be a new law prohibiting us from building them in one way or another, but right now, no problem, own a 100 watt laser pointer if you can afford it and are able to build it. Of course, you won't do that with a single emitter diode I know of right now, maybe someday.

Cops can find your laser pointer, can take it as evidence if you use it improperly, but just on the basis of its power output if you aren't harassing someone with it, or causing danger to someone, I don't think they would be within the law to do so. Not that police don't routinely do things which aren't within their powers, according to law, they do, every day, all over the country and the world.
 

steve001

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Cops can find your laser pointer, can take it as evidence if you use it improperly, but just on the basis of its power output if you aren't harassing someone with it, or causing danger to someone, I don't think they would be within the law to do so. Not that police don't routinely do things which aren't within their powers, according to law, they do, every day, all over the country and the world.
Some states do have laws prohibiting minors from owning lasers.
 

Alaskan

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I didn't even consider minors, I am not comfortable with the idea of minors having even 5 mw laser pointers, but that's a personal perspective.
 

Merpie101

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for me (a minor) its legal for me to own even class iv lasers but only if i keep them on my property and under supervision :cool:
i felt like it would be a good idea to check before i started getting into this hobby :)
 
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Alaskan

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My own thoughts on minors having lasers is mine, I wouldn't force my opinion on anyone, but for my own kids, I wouldn't want them having it. It all depends upon the maturity of the minor, my girls might not have handled a laser properly, so nope! Kids can hurt themselves with all kinds of stuff, like telescopes or BB guns, gun powder, I did with all of them as a minor, but survived without scars.
 

Rivem

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Back on that 10 Nm rule for the FAA, I cannot find the FAA regulation detailing it. There are lots of advisories and various other documents, but I just can't find the actual law. I feel like it's probably somewhere at this point though.

If this is 100% a legitimately written law though, US LPFers need to really be careful at 12 miles from airports as I'm sure that distance feels safe enough for most members here. Heck, probably a good bit of members are within 12 miles of an airport.
 




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