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FBI Offers Big Reward To Rat Out People Who Aim Lasers At Aircraft

The FBI is offering rewards up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of people who have aimed laser pointers at aircraft. Deliberate targeting of aircraft in flight has increased significantly in the last couple of years in the Northwest. 

The $10,000 reward offer is good for the next 90 days. The FBI wants to protect pilots from being temporarily blinded at night by laser pointers aimed playfully or maliciously from the ground. 

In Seattle, bureau spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich says she's alarmed by a rise in pilot complaints.

It has increased in frequency from an average of about 3.5 'lasing' incidents per month in 2012 to a little over six times a month in 2013. We are now in this year averaging over seven times a month," she said. 

Those are numbers for Washington state. Dietrich says in Idaho, a single Idaho pilot complained in 2012. That jumped to 10 reported "lasings" last year.

In Oregon though, the frequency has reversed. This may be due to the well publicized arrest last year of a Northeast Portland man accused of aiming a laser pointer at two jetliners.


Correspondent Tom Banse is an Olympia-based reporter with more than three decades of experience covering Washington and Oregon state government, public policy, business and breaking news stories. Most of his career was spent with public radio's Northwest News Network, but now in semi-retirement his work is appearing on other outlets.