SALT LAKE CITY -- Police are searching for someone who flashed green lasers at the cockpits of two aircraft as they made their final approach to land at Salt Lake International Airport.
Pointing a laser at a plane is a federal crime and a safety hazard, law enforcement authorities said, and they're trying to find the person who from West Jordan temporarily obscured the view of pilots Thursday night.
The first incident involved a Southwest Boeing 737 flying 9,500 feet above the ground at 9:45 p.m., while the second incident involved a Lear jet at 6,000 feet about 12 minutes later. Both planes landed safely.
The Federal Aviation Administration says lasers can blind or distract pilots and damage eyesight.
"(People think), 'Let's see if we can hit the aircraft with the laser, how fun is that,"' airport spokesman Dave Korzep told KSL. "But what they don't know is they're endangering air crew, passengers, and why would you want to do that? Figure something else to do in your spare time."
West Jordan police spokesman Rich Bell said it's believed the lasers were pointed from around South Valley Airport, but officers found nothing suspicious when they checked out the area Thursday night.
"We're keeping an eye on the area," Bell told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We've had these (incidents) in the past and if they keep doing it, we have had some success in tracking them down."
If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The number of incidents nationally in which people pointed lasers at aircraft nearly doubled in 2010 to 2,836 incidents, according to the FAA.
The Salt Lake City airport ranked 14th with 36 incidents involving lasers pointed at aircraft in 2010.