Tayside and Central Scotland

Pilot says plane laser targeting is 'irresponsible and immature'

Liam Molloy Image copyright Liam Molloy
Image caption Liam Molloy's aircraft was targeted as he flew over Methil

A teenage pilot said the person who shone a laser into his plane's cockpit on its approach to Dundee was "irresponsible and immature."

Liam Molloy said the beam left him disorientated as it flashed around the cockpit at about 20:00 on Sunday.

The 19-year-old's light aircraft was targeted as he flew over Methil to gain night-flying hours for his commercial pilot degree.

Police said the incident "beggars belief".

Mr Molloy holds a private pilot's licence and is studying for a professional aviation pilot practice degree at Tayside Aviation in Dundee.

He was flying with two passengers on a round flight over Stirling, Edinburgh and Fife when the plane was targeted.

'Created a flash'

Mr Molloy said one of the passengers saw a green flashing light from the ground as the aircraft flew over Methil.

He said: "I asked if it was a laser and, as I asked, it shone directly at him and hit him in the eye.

"It created a flash along the canopy and lit up the cabin and it happened several times.

"For 10 or 15 seconds it carried on following the aircraft and then it hit the canopy.

"I was in the left-hand seat so all I got was the reflection from the canopy, but that was strong enough to disorientate me."

Image copyright Liam Molloy
Image caption Mr Molloy said he was briefly disorientated by the laser beam

Mr Molloy changed his course away from the area and the plane landed safely at Dundee Airport.

He said: "I think it's extremely irresponsible, it's quite immature really.

"When it hits the canopy, it diffracts and lights up the whole thing.

"It will only take one time for someone to be shining a laser light at a cockpit in its critical stages of flight for it to go wrong.

"We have very strict medical requirements and if we get a strong laser into one eye, we can have our eyesight permanently damaged."

'Vision ruined'

Mr Molloy said some people targeting aircraft did not realise the implications of their actions.

He said: "Lasers leave the ground with a few millimetres of beam width, but as it gets up to altitude that can increase to a few inches.

"The problem for pilots is we operate at night with a very dark cabin so we are used to the night vision.

"The instruments have very low lighting and the cabin is blacked out.

"When a laser comes through the cockpit it only takes one look at a strong bright light to ruin your vision for the next few minutes."

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