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Stockton man arrested for pointing laser into PD Falcon 1-0 helicopter

The helicopter was flying near March Lane when the cockpit was hit with a laser.

STOCKTON, Calif. — A Stockton man was arrested for pointing a laser into the cockpit of the Stockton Police Department helicopter. 

The Falcon 1-0 regularly patrols over Stockton, but according to the police department, the helicopter crew was put in a dangerous situation. Stockton police said in a Facebook post that on around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, the helicopter was flying in the area of March Lane and Interstate 5 when a laser was pointed at the helicopter.

The helicopter crew was able to find out where the laser came from and alerted police officers.

Maximino Monje, 30, was charged for willful discharge of a laser at an aircraft.

To understand why this was an offense worth arresting someone over, you have to know what happens when you point a laser pointer at an aircraft. Pointing a laser beam at a helicopter can distract a pilot. Even if you think the beam has disappeared, that light can still be seen by a person piloting an aircraft. The beam is often much larger at long distances than you might think.

Directing a laser beam directly into the cockpit of a helicopter, as Monje did in this case, can cause glare which makes it nearly impossible to see. At higher power levels, it can also cause temporary flash-blindness and afterimages (like when you look at a bright camera flash, and cannot see for a few seconds afterwards). 

This situation can be very dangerous for pilots. Deliberately pointing a laser at aircraft can get you arrested, as it did in the case of Monje. 

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