Rochester Man Pointed Laser At Airliner Serve Time Federal Prison

Seema Rai
Seema Rai

A Minnesota man was given a two-year jail term on Friday by a federal judge in Wisconsin for firing a laser at a Delta Air Lines aircraft in 2021, disrupting the pilots’ attempts to land, and placing passengers in “incredible danger.” In January, Rochester, Minnesota resident James Link, 43, entered a guilty plea.

In the United States, laser attacks on aircraft and helicopters reached a record in 2021. According to Federal Aviation Administration data, pilots reported 9,723 occurrences. A 41% increase from the previous year. The FAA reported that it fined people $120,000 in 2021. A five-year prison sentence is also an option for offenders like Link.

man behind bars for pointing laser at airplane

The pilots of the October 29, 2021, Delta flight from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, to Minneapolis. At 9,000 feet, just west of River Falls, Wisconsin, they reportedly had an intense blue laser shine into their cockpit three times.

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According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Madison. They needed to chart a new course to the Minneapolis airport since air traffic control had just ordered them to switch runways.

Minnesota State Patrol Plane Called by Air Traffic Control: Laser Case

laser at airplane

Eventually, according to the statement, the pilots were able to choose a new course and safely make a landing.
The captain reported having trouble seeing for several hours following the incident. According to the captain, the first officer did not experience any visual problems.

A Minnesota State Patrol plane was called by air traffic control, and it took off for River Falls. A blue laser also hit the State Patrol helicopter. The River Falls police discovered Link with a blue laser on him after the pilots identified the suspect and collaborated with them.

U.S. District Judge William Conley commented on the sentencing process regarding Link’s lengthy criminal history, which included multiple domestic assaults. He added that Link’s actions were reminiscent of one during an arrest in 2017 when he shone a spotlight into the officer’s eyes.

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