A lawyer for the New Jersey man accused of aiming a laser beam at an aircraft says her client was just "looking at stars."
But investigators looking into reports of laser beams hitting cockpits in Colorado Springs and elsewhere say he's "foolhardy and negligent."
Now, 38-year-old David Banach faces criminal charges that could lead to a hefty fine, as well as prison time. He's the first person arrested in connection with a string of laser beam incidents nationwide.
Authorities say Banach admitted pointing the beam both at a jet and a helicopter over his home in Parsippany, New Jersey last week, even though he first blamed the helicopter incident on his daughter.
He later said he and the seven-year-old girl were only looking at the sky.
The FBI says there's no link to terrorism in connection with the laser report in Parsippany, but Banach is still charged under the U.S. Patriot Act.
Court documents indicate a chartered Cessna Citation with six people on board was attempting to land December 29th when a green light beam hit the windshield three times at about 3,000 feet. The pilot and co-pilot were temporarily blinded, but were able to land safely.
Similar incidents occurred December 27th involving two planes on approach to the Colorado Springs Airport. Those planes also landed without incident.
Banach is free on $100,000 bond. If convicted, he could spend up to 25 years in prison and pay $500,000 in fines.
Viewers with disabilities can get assistance accessing this station's FCC Public Inspection File by contacting the station with the information listed below. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, 888-835-5322 (TTY), or firstname.lastname@example.org.