Let's get started!


Saturday, January 01, 2005

I don't get it. Part 2.5

As a followup to my I don't get it post the other day, I've done a bit more internet research. To keep it all on the level, I should also mention that my original post was a followup of sorts to a post by Mr. Mescalito who submitted Cover your eyes Indy! on December 10.

So far, most of what I have been able to find is threads on message boards. The general consensus seems to be that blinding pilots with laser beams shot from the ground is not very feasible at all - if not impossible. A lot of the reasons center around angles and the fact that cockpit windows are angled upwards. While at level flight, this would prove pretty much impossible for someone on the ground to direct a laser with such accuracy into a cockpit as to blind the pilot. They might have a better chance when the plane is taking off or landing - much more so at landing since the cockpit is pointed at a somewhat downward angle in order to descend. Even this theory is almost dismissed due to the poor angles - both from the shooter being on the ground and also because of the angled windows.

There does not seem to be a lot of doubt that there are lasers, scopes and other eqipment available that would have the capacity to reach the plane and aim the laser. In order to accomplish blinding a pilot, the shooter would have to be on level or most likely above the plane to get the proper angle (Gravity Boy had mentioned something along these lines in an earlier comment). Given this, it is a very unlikely scenario that an attack such as this could be pulled off.

Again though, this is just consensus off message boards and it could and might very well be wrong - but it could be right. As of yet, I have not been able to find anything with any kind of true scientific type analysis that can be explained in such a way for the average person to understand. Until that point, I continue to have doubts, but at least there seems to be some discussion on the issue (at least some people still think).

At Above Top Secret, there is a pretty good discussion on this issue.
But it's impossible for a Laser to go directly into the cockpit from the ground. It would have to be at the same level, or above the plane in order to do this.

This post goes onto link to an earlier post which goes into much more detail on the reasons why this is not too feasible.

There are also some threads about the topic on Flyertalk.com. Although not as in depth, many of the posts here deal with the shooter needing to be on level with the plane...
The only hard part is finding a plane heading straight for the laser (which might not be that hard for certain locations on commonly used approaches), and getting it initially lined up.
Finally, at Slashdot, there are a lot of threads and posts debating this issue. Although this message board is not well organized, if you take the time to troll through it, you will find this is the place with the least consensus on the issue. Many people continue to say this is impossible or unlikely, but there are several posters who try to outline how it is definitely possible. I never find any clear, understandable reasons though as most of the explanations given are outside my current level of knowledge of lasers and equipment used to generate them..
If done by competent individuals, it would probably involve a pulsed infrared laser (harder to detect, and the eye is more susceptible to near IR than to visible). A Nd:YAG laser (1064 nm) would be ideal.

Since a pulsed laser is used, there's no need for tracking the plane. A single 10-nanosecond pulse would be sufficient. At 10 - 20 pulses per second, you could just scan the sky in the area of the plane.