April 19, 2024


It’s pretty common knowledge that you do not shine laser pointers at aircraft, but it seems that no one told that to festival-goers at the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico. Shocking video footage posted on TikTok shows dozens of revelers shining green laser beams at the passenger jet in what may be one of the stupidest plane-related incidents of 2024.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is illegal in Mexico. It is illegal in many countries — but even in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration saw 13,304 reports of laser-related incidents in 2023. It sounds like it’s time to remind folks why pointing lasers at planes is bad.

First and foremost, certain lasers can cause retinal damage, which could result in someone losing vision; it should go without saying that you really do not want your pilot losing their vision while in the middle of a flight. As laser beams travel long distances, the light can diffuse; by the time that light hits the cockpit of an airborne plane, it may no longer be blinding, but it can cause glare or create other impairments to vision. Again, that is not good. In fact, it is extremely bad and dangerous.

There are still a lot of questions about the airplane that was blasted by dozens of lasers from festival-goers in Mexico, but Business Insider reports that it appears that the plane was approaching Felipe Ángeles International Airport with the intent of landing. While there is no good time for a pilot to be visually assaulted while in the air, laser damage is especially concerning during skilled processes like take-off and landing.

The video posted on TikTok shows one or two lasers pointing at the plane. Encouraged, dozens of other festival-goers decided to join in. By the end of the 19-second clip, the plane is almost entirely obscured by lasers.

Here in the U.S., pointing a laser at a plane can earn you an $11,000 fine for a single violation. Keep it up, and those fines skyrocket. A 29-year-old man named Joseph Crapsi is now facing five years in prison and a $250,000 after being accused of pointing a green laser at a Delta Airlines flight arriving at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in New York earlier this month.

A version of this article originally appeared on Jalopnik.



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