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Laser pen shone at low-flying aircraft at RAF base

PUBLISHED: 16:58 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:58 18 September 2019

A C-17 Globemaster similar to the one at which a laser pen was shone Picture: GARY STEDMAN

A C-17 Globemaster similar to the one at which a laser pen was shone Picture: GARY STEDMAN

(c) copyright citizenside.com

Police are appealing for information after a laser pen was shone at a low-level aircraft at RAF Honington.

A Royal Air Force pilot flying using night vision goggles Picture: CPL DEK TAYLORA Royal Air Force pilot flying using night vision goggles Picture: CPL DEK TAYLOR

A C-17 Globemaster transporter plane was undertaking night-flight training at the base near Bury St Edmunds when it was targeted.

The incident happened just after 10pm on Wednesday September 11 and has now been reported to Suffolk Constabulary.

A spokesman for the base said the crew were training while using night-goggles, which amplify light.

"Such laser light can cause a hazard to the safety of the aircraft and crew not only as a distraction but also potential to cause flash blindness," the spokesman said.

RAF Honington is home to the RAF Regiment and Police and the service's force protection wing Picture: GREGG BROWNRAF Honington is home to the RAF Regiment and Police and the service's force protection wing Picture: GREGG BROWN

"Given that the aircraft was flying at night and at low level then this raised the risk level."

The spokesman said the targeting of any aircraft with bright lights jeopardises flight safety and is an offence under the Air Navigation Order 2016.

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"Whilst owning a laser pen is not illegal, if a person had one in the street and was using it, or intending to use it, to shine in people's eyes, at cars or aircraft then they would be committing an offence and, in the case of cars and aircraft, a particularly serious offence," the spokesman said.

All such incidents were routinely reported to the civilian police, he added.

Although its main role is as the depot for the RAF Regiment and Police and home of its force protection wing, RAF Honington is seeing an increase in flying activity and this is expected to continue.

Last year there were 775 incidents in the UK of laser pens being shone at aircraft reported to the Civil Aviation Authority.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said inquiries were on-going and no arrests had been made.

"Reports of this nature are taken very seriously," the spokesman said.

"We would remind the public that laser pens and similar devices are not toys and using them in this manner is against the law and could have devastating consequences.

"Police would ask that anyone who may have any information regarding this activity to contact officers."

Anyone with details is asked to contact police on 101 quoting CAD reference 250 of September 16.

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