Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Military plane latest aircraft hit by laser over New Jersey

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST - The FAA is investigating after a military KC-10 refueling jet was hit by a laser Tuesday while flying a training mission over the Jersey shore, officials said.

The flight crew reported a green laser illuminated the plane at 10:20 p.m. at an altitude of 4,000 feet in the Chatsworth area of Lacey Township, Ocean County, FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. The FAA notified the Lacey police department.

The KC-10 was from the 514th Air Mobility Wing, a reservist refueling wing operating from the Joint Base, said wing spokeswoman Master Sgt. Donna Jeffries.

Jeffries said the crew reported a "momentary flash" and was able to avert their eyes.

While a potentially dangerous situation, this event turned out to be a minor incident and the massive tanker jet returned safely to the base, she said. The KC-10 was about 15 miles away when the laser illumination occurred, Jeffries said.

Laser incidents are rare with military aircraft, she said. In the past five years, she said only one other incident has occurred with the wing, Jeffries said.

In July, a dozen aircraft over New Jersey skies reported dangerous laser beams crossing their paths in a single night. A Coast Guard aircraft over Ocean City, Cape May County was among those affected.

Shining a laser into an aircraft cockpit is a federal crime with potential jail time and fines.

Nearly 3,900 laser-aircraft incidents were reported nationwide in 2014, up from roughly 2,800 in 2010, according to FAA data.

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