This time in Myrtle Beach, with the aircraft being a Coast Guard helicopter trying to locate two men that had fallen off a catamaran. Luckily, the two men, Guiseppe Chillico and Keith Crook, were able to reach shore on they’re own, after a long swim.
At some point during that swim, Chillico said the light from the helicopter passed directly on them, but no one on the aircraft saw them in the water. Eventually, the light and the helicopter were completely gone.
“That was very depressing when we saw (the helicopter) leave,” he said, thinking it had gone to refuel.
Actually, the helicopter scouring the surf for the missing men had to abandon efforts when people on the beach began shining laser pointers at the aircraft, according to Petty Officer Christopher McDonald with the Coast Guard base in Charleston.
The search had to be suspended until the problem was taken care of because laser pointers can damage the eyes of the pilot, who is wearing night vision goggles, he said./blockquote>
Last year, the FAA reported 3,592 cases of lasers pointed ay planes, up from 2,836 in 2010. The agency will seek civil penalties of up $11,000 for those that get caught. Perhaps those penalties aren’t harsh enough, exactly because next time the Coast Guard might be looking for someone who isn’t quite as good a swimmer as Chillico and Crook.