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Georgia Man Charged with Shining Laser at Commercial Aircraft

By Steve Neavling

A 48-year-old Georgia man has been indicted on federal charges after the FBI said he shined a laser pointer at three commercial airplanes headed to Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. 

A federal grand jury indicted Roger Floyd Hendricks, of Rincon, on three counts of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. He faces up to five years in prison on each count.

“Pointing a laser at an aircraft is not a prank; it’s incredibly dangerous and stupid,” Bobby L. Christine, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said in a statement. “The FBI did an outstanding job of locating and stopping this threat to hundreds of Savannah air travelers.”

The Federal Aviation Administration in February asked the FBI for help tracking down whoever was responsible for three green laser strikes on inbound aircraft. 

The strikes included:

  • A Nov. 27, strike on Commutair flight 4935 from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The aircraft, an Embraer ERJ-145, has a capacity of more than 50 passengers and crew.
  • A Dec. 8  strike on Delta flight 697 from Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. The aircraft, an Airbus A321, has a capacity of up to nearly 200 passengers and crew.
  • A Jan. 14 strike on NetJets flight 385 from Chicago Midway International Airport. The aircraft, a Cessna Citation Sovereign, has a capacity of eight passengers plus crew. 

Each plane landed safely. 

Nationwide, there have been more than than 6,000 laser strikes on aircraft in the U.S., according to the FAA.

“Aiming a laser at an airplane is not a game, it’s a federal felony and something the FBI takes very seriously,” Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI’s Atlanta Field Office, said. “These alleged actions placed the lives of innocent air travelers and commercial airline crews in danger and must be prosecuted.”


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