By Kevin Duguid
CREW on board a Royal Navy helicopter were dazzled by a laser beam deliberately shone into their cockpit during a rescue operation.
The aircraft was involved in the rescue of a woman from the water at the coastal Ayrshire holiday village of Saltcoats at the time.
The helicopter, from HMS Gannet at Prestwick, was standing by to offer medical help when a beam from a strong laser was shone directly into the cockpit.
Coastguard crews managed to rescue the woman from the water without the aid of the Sea King Mark 5, which was able to fly off.
“reckless’ crime could have jeopardised the operation to save the woman, said a Navy spokesman.
“Potentially this was a very serious incident,’ said Lieutenant Commander Geoff Richardson, who was aircraft commander at the time.
“Not only is it illegal to endanger aviation in this way, it is extremely reckless and irresponsible behaviour. This incident could have threatened the safety of the crew and aircraft.
“Had we been in the middle of a rescue, this person’s actions could have jeopardised our ability to continue.
“This could have a disastrous effect on the person or persons requiring urgent help from the search and rescue helicopter and emergency services. “
The rescue operation began at around 10pm on Monday (Aug 1).
The position of the laser was pinpointed by the crew and the incident was immediately reported to Strathclyde Police for further investigation.
Although instances of lasers or high powered torches being shone into aircraft are infrequent, they are treated very seriously.
It is a civil offence under the Air Navigation Order and the police have brought successful prosecutions against those involved in similar crimes in the past.