Pilot reports another laser strike during take off at Kelowna airport | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Pilot reports another laser strike during take off at Kelowna airport

FILE PHOTO: An employee working outside of Kelowna International Airport.

A Cessna pilot reported being temporarily blinded while taking off from Kelowna International Airport on Tuesday.

There was no damage to the plane or the airport, but the Cessna 172S was climbing away from the runway when a blue laser shot into the cockpit, temporarily blinding its pilot, according to a Transport Canada incident report.

The report does not say what time the plane took off, but it does narrow the laser to a "small group of homes in the southwest corner of Wood Lake."

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"I'm not sure people realize what kind of weapons these lasers are," airport director Sam Samaddar said. "This is not your laser pointer you find doing a Powerpoint presentation. These can burn through and set a couch on fire. They're very dangerous."

Samaddar added that powerful lasers can not only disorient a pilot trying to read instruments and gauges on the "most crucial part of a flight," but they can also permanently damage a pilot's eyes.

The plane is registered to Southern Interior Flight Centre. Samaddar said the laser likely hit a learner pilot during take off. A request for information from the flight school yielded a terse response.

"We don't respond to media inquiries."

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While the exact source and type of laser isn't yet known, Transport Canada is investigating.

It's also not the first time a pilot was struck by a laser at the Kelowna airport.

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A Vernon man was charged in September 2021 for striking several aircraft from Becker Park with a green laser.

Someone convicted of pointing a laser into an aircraft cockpit in Canada could face up to five years in prison and face fines up to $100,000.

He's facing several charges and his trial is set to start July 19.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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