New Laser Christmas Light Displays Threaten Passenger Planes, Blind Pilots


*With Christmas decorating in full swing, I chuckled recently when I stumbled across a “laser light” decoration kit on the Home Shopping Network. (I got semi-hooked on the “network” a few years ago, when a train wreck of a Mariah Carey appeared live during the holidays.  I don’t even remember what she was selling, but it was a blast to watch.)

ANYWAY, I thought the new laser light displays were hilarious. You position a small projector from your front lawn, and small red and green lights are cast upon the front of your home. It was no surprise to learn that the displays are being dubbed “lazy lights” on social media, as they’re so easy to install.


It WAS a surprise to learn that the lights, when installed incorrectly, are blinding airline pilots flying above us.

Recently, a laser light show 22 miles from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport threatened a passenger plane. A similar complaint was filed in Michigan last month.

And just in case you’re looking for a way to pass the time this holiday season, it’s a federal crime to shine a laser at a plane.

KCBS Helicopter reporter Stu Mundel has encountered lasers first-hand.

“I saw the laser in the corner of my eye, I looked at it, and unfortunately, it went right into my eyes…and it stings, it burns, it feels like you have a sunburn on your eye,” Mundel said.

A sunburn on your eye. It may not be a sensation that is top of mind with our people, but you get the picture.

From a pilot’s vantage point, traditional Christmas light displays


look like blobs of light. The newfangled laser light displays, when not properly installed, shoot straight up into an aircraft’s cockpit, which can potentially cause a LOT of trouble. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m flying above in a pressurized tube, I don’t want my pilot’s vision to be hindered by anything.

“If the box is aimed a little high, some of the laser light will not hit the roof of the house,” said Lynn Lunsford of the Federal Aviation Administration. “It’ll just keep going off into space.”

Or into a pilot’s face.

The FAA is asking homeowners to make sure their laser light displays aren’t pointed toward the sky, or to avoid all risk and pull the plug on them altogether.

A handful of my neighbors have the new displays this year. Yesterday, I just thought theirs looked weird. Today, they’ll look downright dangerous.

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