JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's hard to believe but a tiny laser pointer like this can take down a massive aircraft with one tiny click. That's why a Jacksonville man was arrested earlier this week.
Police say Tyler Pennywitt shined a green laser pointer right at a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office helicopter near Craig Airfield on Monday, multiple times. The tiny looking beam created a big effect; blinding JSO pilots.
"It's like going into a dark room and then turning on the lights really quick," said pilot Travis Anderson, who flies into Craig Airfield daily with Flight Express.
"It's not fun, it's not a game, and with technology that police have on the aircraft now we can actually see what's going on on the ground," said JSO public information officer, Melissa Bujeda.
That's exactly how police caught Pennywitt. Pilots pointed out his home, and police caught him with the laser on his nightstand, but Pennywitt isn't the only one lighting up the sky. Anderson has recently encountered the same problem.
"I've already got shined 10 times," Anderson told Action News. He's worried the lasers could cause much bigger problems than blindness.
"It could cause me to get killed," he said. "It could cause people on the ground to get killed and it's a big thing. I mean if I lose my sight that's the most important thing in aviation."
Lasers are a growing problem in our area that shouldn't be taken lightly. Pointing a laser at a plane is a felony. It can also land you 25 years in prison if upgraded to a federal charge.
Pennywitt was arrested on state charges, but the feds could also investigate the incident and upgrade those charges.