MTSU student pilot temporarily blinded by laser pointed at cockpit

(Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Middle Tennessee State University student was temporarily blinded when someone pointed a laser into his cockpit.

It happened as the pilot was flying over Murfreesboro Friday night.

MTSU student pilots fly over neighborhoods across Murfreesboro all the time, but what happened to that student while flying above Gardendale Drive is quite concerning.

According to a police report, the student told police an unknown subject pointed a green laser at him, causing his cockpit to glow.

He also told them that due to the light he could not see until the laser stopped.

“The dangers of shooting a laser into a cockpit, being lased, is that it will temporarily blind you. The odds of someone hitting you in the eyeball are very rare,” said Jim Gardner, owner of Murfreesboro Aviation.

The student said this isn’t the first time lasers have been pointed at flight instructors at Murfreesboro Municipal Airport.

“It has not happened to me personally; it happened to one of my flight instructors, got lased on short final. It came from the apartment complex,” Gardner said.

Aviation officials say pointing a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft, particularly at night, is 10 times worse than passing a vehicle with its high beams on.

“This is a small little laser hitting your lens, and it does the exact same thing when it hits the cockpit window,” Gardner said. “So, you can imagine trying to drive a car or fly an airplane with this hitting you in the face you can imagine it would be very distracting.”

Not only is this dangerous, it’s also a crime.

“Yes it is and I think the people who are doing this they don’t understand what they are doing. I think 90% are children,” Gardner said. “Disorienting a pilot at the time that they are trying to fly the airplane could be dangerous.”

We reached out to the student and MTSU AeroSpace officials but were told no one was available to speak with us.

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