Lasers vs. police helicopters

Tom James @ 08-04-2009

lasercockpitFollowing on from the news of blinding-laser “friendly fire” incidents in Iraq is this article on the growing problem of green lasers being used against police helicopters in the UK:

An “attack” can come from any of the darkened streets over which the force’s state of the art helicopter India 99 flies at night.

“You can’t miss it. A sharp green beam of light shoots up from the ground, flashing around the helicopter, dazzling anyone on whom it scores a ‘direct hit’,” said Mr Briggs.

The police have had to learn to deal with the attacks — about half of those reported are aimed at their helicopters. In 2003 just three incidents were recorded. Last year there were 207. So far this year, the tally is 76.

The culprits are usually bored youths, who have got hold of a laser pointer and amuse themselves by playing its beam over passing aircraft.

One of those “we are living in the 21st century” moments – idlers attacking police helicopters with lasers…

[image and article from the BBC]

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2 Responses to “Lasers vs. police helicopters”

  1. Dave says:

    My interest: what tech do the authorities use to figure out where the laser comes from? That sounds really hard to me, but I’ve read about people being caught in several similar cases.

  2. Dagonweb says:

    Interesting – two things come to mind here…

    1- if you want to protest sound pollution from a nearby airport, all it takes is several people spread out over the area, wait for a plane to fly overhead and a coordinated/timed exposure. One laser is an annoyance, ten beams at the same time will probably spook the air control enough to shut down traffic for hours.

    2- helicopters scanning for these offenders use infrared. So, if I locate a few dozen relatively hot (but non or low-illumination) objects this would create perception shadows. It would be easy to set up a number of thermal blankets or metal foil sheets to make yourself invisible from these patrols. To make 100% sure experiment with this tactic by getting a cheap IR camera and test what kind of termal camo would give the best contrast – you wouldn’t want black spots that stand out either.

    I had other such ideas to protest these aerial civil rights violations. . One would be to take one or a bunch of cheap low weight black garbage bags. Glue these together into a giant sausage, and let them warm in the sun (day) or pump them full of hydrogen (night) or place a lightweight heating element under them. Some foil, some thin nylon thread and an oil light would do the trick. I have seen these impromptu balloons float up and stay up in midday, sunny conditions. Connect a thread of fishing wire to them, with strips of aluminium foil and let this go up – it will light up a radar screen miles away. Be sure to wear surgical gloves and hide any evidence (and buy the bags in another city!) for authorities will be VERY vindictive after such an incident.

    The point would be, in all cases, to protest aerial surveillance or noise pollution, if democratic checks and balances do not work. This should be applicable in the UK. It’s supply & demand – if authorities exert authoritarian rule too far, lash back by jamming the system and causing them overload safely and with minimal investment.