FALMOUTH — A 19-year-old Falmouth man is facing charges after allegedly pointing a green laser at a commercial airplane and a boat last Friday night.
Police received a call from the Portland International Jetport at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 24 that a commercial airline pilot reported a green laser being pointed into the cockpit of the plane within seven miles of the Jetport, Sgt. Frank Soule said Monday.
Within an hour of the first report a launch operator at the Portland Yacht Club said a laser was being aimed directly at the boat he was steering, making operating the vessel difficult.
“Officers responded and located a group of people leaving the pier and getting into their vehicles,” Soule said.
The group was detained and Officer Kurt Fegan eventually charged John Bagonzi, 19, of Charlotte Drive, with criminal use of a laser pointer.
The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing the incident. Jetport Director Paul Bradbury said additional charges are likely to be filed.
“This has become a problem with the pocket lasers,” Bradbury said. “I expect (the federal government) will take action.”
According to the FBI’s website, issues with laser pointers and airplanes have become a growing problem.
In 2010, there were more than 2,800 reports filed with the FAA of lasers being pointed at airplanes; that was almost double the previous year’s total of about 1,500.
A 2001 report released by the FAA said that shining a laser, specifically a green laser, into the cockpit of an airplane effectively blinds the pilot. What appears to be a dot on the ground illuminates the cockpit of an airplane like a camera flash, the report said.
Criminal use of a laser pointer is a Class D offense and is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Neither Bagonzi nor representatives of the FAA could be reached for comment.