North West Wales

Man who 'shone lights at RAF jets' made landing 'dangerous'

John Arthur Jones

A senior RAF officer said a bright light being shone at Hawk jets made it "too dangerous" to land them.

Wing Commander Nicholas Gatonby told Mold Crown Court a light was repeatedly shone from the ground at a jet near RAF Valley on Anglesey.

He said it "obliterated" their ability to see anything from the jet.

John Arthur Jones, 66, of Bodffordd, Anglesey, denies 13 charges of endangering aircraft between November 2013 and September 2014.

Mr Gatonby, the former commanding officer of 208 Squadron at RAF Valley, said he was instructing a pilot in December 2013 on how to carry out a "touch and go" landing where the jet would be on the ground for four to five seconds before accelerating off again.

He said jets slowed from 400mph (643km/h) to 120-140mph (193-225km/h) for the touchdown at RAF Mona, a relief landing strip close to Mr Jones's house.

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During his approach "there was a very bright light shining from the ground on to the aircraft," he said.

He told his student not to look, hoping it was a temporary flash, but said the light stayed on the aircraft for 15 or 20 seconds.

"Because it was a very bright light in our eyes it destroyed our night vision completely," he told the court.

The landing was abandoned, but when they returned 15 to 20 minutes later "the light illuminated us again from the same position," he said.

They did a "go around" again but the light shone on them three or four times. He decided it was too dangerous to stay there and they flew off.

Mr Gatonby said as the light had been shone at them so many times, he could narrow down the location of the light with quite a degree of accuracy and it was from an area near the Cefni Reservoir.

The trial continues.

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