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Calif. Man Who Pointed Lasers at Pilots Gets 2 1/2 Years

Jet

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Note to Dana Christian Welch: Next time play a Nintendo game instead.

Welch, 38, of Orange County, Calif., was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to 2 1/2 years in prison  for aiming a handheld laser at two Boeing commercial jets preparing to land at John Wayne Airport in Los Angles on the night of May 21, 2008, authorities said.

The U.S. Attorneys Office said he was first person in the nation to be convicted at trial for interfering with aircraft pilots. The rest pleaded guilty.

The first incident involved a United Airlines jet carrying more than 180 people. Welch pointed a green laser beam in the cockpit, causing the pilot to experience “flash blindness.”

In the second incident, which involved an Alaska Airlines plane carrying more than 80 people, Welch shined the laser into the cockpit, “causing one pilot to duck under a glare shield extending from the dashboard in the cockpit and the other pilot to delay a critical turn necessary to land the plane,” a press release said.

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