Helicopters Magazine

Features Procedures Safety & Training
Laser strike forces Durham pilot to land

April 25, 2012, Durham, Ont. - A Toronto-area police helicopter was forced to land after it was repeatedly struck with a high-powered laser Saturday.


Durham Regional Police said the pilot of the helicopter had to put his aircraft down on the property of the nearby police station. The helicopter returned to its home base at the Oshawa airport, 30 kilometres south of the police station, hours later, police said.

Melissa Perry, 20, has been charged with mischief endangering life and assault with a weapon. She was also charged under the Canadian Aviation Act and the Aeronautics Act.

The helicopter was flying over the train station in the village of Uxbridge – about 75 kilometres northeast of Toronto – looking for vandals, when the laser was pointed at it multiple times for several minutes, police said.

Spokeswoman Sgt. Nancy van Rooy said the pilot was taken to hospital to ensure he hadn't suffered any eye damage from the laser.

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While he was released, it is possible that damage could take several days to emerge, van Rooy said.

The spokeswoman said the helicopter was equipped with sensors to easily track down the source of the beam, but would not elaborate further.

According to the World Health Organization, Class 3A lasers – the type used against the helicopter – can cause serious damage to eyesight with extended exposure.

Class 3A lasers are the most powerful legally available in Canada.

Perry was released Sunday after a bail hearing.


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