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12/31/2004

Mysteries of Pittsburgh

Cockpit_laser

Last night I updated my earlier post, "Terrorist laser threat timeline," with a story that appeared on Pittsburgh's NBC affiliate, WPXI, regarding an alleged laser sighting by a pilot at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.

I'm not sure, then, what to make of this story, by Gwen Arbuckle of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which appears on PittsburghLive.com, the joint website of WPXI and the Tribune-Review:

Officials: No link in laser cases

A spotlight shined into the cockpit of an airliner departing Pittsburgh International Airport was probably the action of pranksters and not connected to instances of lasers being pointed at planes in other cities, airport officials said.

Airport spokeswoman JoAnn Jenny said a pilot reported seeing the light at 9:30 last night [as] the plane took off.

She could not supply the pilot's flight number or carrier.

Airport operations and the Federal Aviation Association said the source of the spotlight was in Independence, Beaver County, about 10 miles from the airport. Independence police searched the 23 square-mile township for about an hour, Jenny said.

The search was called off after about an hour.

WPXI aired a story on their 5 pm newscast today that also "corrects" the earlier report, which unequivocally described the light source as a laser, not a spotlight.

It's possible, of course, that an airline pilot might not be able to distinguish a laser from a spotlight—but not likely in my view, particularly given that a laser light would probably be green, not white like a spotlight. (I recall a green light having been described in last night's report, but I can't swear to it.)

At the risk of sounding like Oliver Stone, I'm also suspicious that the airport spokesperson wouldn't name a flight number or even a carrier.

Feels like someone's trying to keep a lid on this.

Posted by Rodger on December 31, 2004 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

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