Wichita, Kan. -- A dramatic increase in incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft has lead to a national initiative to to crack down on the extremely dangerous and illegal activity.
At a press conference today at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport, Special Agent Marlin Ritzman was joined by U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, Airport Police and Fire Chief Roger Xanders and representatives of the FAA, TSA, Wichita Police and McConnell Air Force Base to make the official announcement. Since 2005 when the FBI began tracking laser incidents with aircraft, there has been a 1,100 percent increase in the number of incidents.
Chief Xanders says that in 2012, the airport recorded 10 incidents, in 2013 that number increased to 23. The aircraft were being targeted on approach and takeoff from the airport. In Kansas, there were 49 reports in 2012 and 51 reported in 2013.
The FBI is now offering a reward of $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of anyone who aims laser at aircraft. The reward is available for 90 days at all 56 FBI field offices across the country.
A pilot program created in major metropolitan areas offering award and raising awareness of the issue lead to a 19 percent decrease in the number of incidents.