Plane hit by green laser near Eugene Airport

EUGENE, Ore. - A plane reported being hit by a green laser near the Eugene Airport on Friday, the Lane County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies responded to an area west of the Eugene Airport after the control tower reported the laser strike around 10 a.m., Sgt. Carrie Carver said.

Carver said deputies were unable to locate the source.

She was unaware if any federal agents responded.

Stephen Boulton, director of Lane Aviation Academy, said he was notified about the laser via communication from the Eugene Airport control tower prior to taking off for a short flight from the airport.

"The tower told me they had an incident five miles west of the Eugene airport," Boulton saidd. "They said a plane had reported being hit with a green laser."

The Federal Aviation Administration told KVAL News that there was a reported "laser strike" within the last 24 hours in Medford.

An FAA official said a CRJ9 commercial aircraft traveling from Denver to Medford "had the cockpit illuminated by a green laser while westbound at 6,000 feet."

The official said no injuries were reported. The FAA did not yet have a formal report of the Eugene incident.

Boulton said he was blinded by a green laser while flying into Fresno, Calif., years ago.

"It's not funny," he said. "I'm not sure why someone would do this."

In that incident, Boulton said he was temporarily blinded and had the control tower assist in the landing.

An FBI spokesperson said laser strikes happen frequently.

FAA statistics show a skyrocketing problem, from 283 reports in 2005 to 2,836 in 2010 to 3,960 in 2013.

Boulton said the last time there was an incident like this occurring in the Eugene area was at least five years ago. Two laser strikes were reported last year at the Aurora, Oregon, airport.

An airport official said flight schedules were not disrupted.

It is a federal crime to point a laser at an aircraft. The FAA has also pursued civil penalties against violators, with fines up to $11,000 for a one-time violation.

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