|FBI video of laser illumination of an airliner cockpit|
For the past eight years, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities have taken a blame and shame approach to miscreants who aim laser pointers into the night sky causing momentary blindness or distracting pilots during a high workload phase of flight. I've written about this disaster in the making for The New York Times, MSNBC and Air & Space.
|Speaking about the laser threat on MSNBC|
Every night, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department Aero Bureau launches Eurocopter AS 350 helicopters with flying cops at the controls. These men and women engage in a variety of crime fighting, but part of their job is responding when pilots report being hit by lasers.
|MacNair and Dailey near LAX|
Here's why that hasn't worked. Everyone who has studied the problem says the vast majority of those using lasers are teens and young men, as ignorant of the law as they are of the possible catastrophic consequences of their actions. Patrick Murphy, a expert who participates in the laser aviation safety committee tells me, "There are so many cases, even now, where perpetrators say they never heard that lasing aircraft is unsafe and or illegal. The word is simply not getting out to the demographic likely to do this."
|On laser patrol with the LASD|
These folks don't watch television news, read the daily newspaper or log on to the FAA laser education website before heading out into the night with their nifty green or blue laser pointers.
Sometime around 2008, when traditional news organizations were well into their downhill slide, my tech-savvy friend, Steve Hart, suggested the industry wouldn't recover until it recognized how younger people consumed information. "If the news is important enough, it will come to me," is how Steve described the news reading habits of the digital age. He was right. Just look at how many people now learn about significant events on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.
|Hollywood gets it right explaining the crime of piracy|
Educating the masses doesn't have to be rocket science but it takes some creativity. Just ask the great minds behind the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, or good old Albert Einstein. But to keep on doing what doesn't work and what hasn't worked for years, well that's #insane.
|Chart courtesy of Patrick Murphy http://www.laserpointersafety.com/|