A Coast Guard HC-130H Hercules aborted a landing at the Kahului Airport on Maui and was forced to return to Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu after an individual on the Valley Isle with a laser pointer targeted the aircraft, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.
The crew was conducting training missions at the time the laser targeted the aircraft Monday night.
The laser affected the vision of the co-pilot, compromising his ability to fly the aircraft, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Casey Corpe said.
Corpe said he didn’t know if the so-called lasing was done maliciously or irresponsibly but the public needs to be made aware of the seriousness of lasing an aircraft.
“Not only does it risk the health of the aircrew, it can seriously delay response times during rescue missions, risking the lives of the people that need help the most,” Corpe said.
Lasing an aircraft, a federal crime, can cause glare, flash blindness or temporary loss of night vision, which poses a danger to the crew, the Coard Guard said.
Coast Guard rules dictate that if any air crew member’s vision is compromised during a flight, the aircraft must abort the mission.
Lasing an aircraft hinders the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to people in distress, conduct training, and other essential missions, the Coast Guard said.