The plane flew from Los Angeles to Medford, Oregon on January 1, 2015, and the incident happened while it was passing over the Siskiyou Pass in southern Oregon. Local media reported that after landing, the unnamed officer was taken to a local Oregon doctor to be cleared to fly.
Allegiant Air did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
It’s notoriously difficult for authorities to pinpoint where a laser strike is being fired from, particularly when fired at a commercial aircraft. When fired against law enforcement aircraft (particularly helicopters that can easily hold their position in the air), it is far easier.
That’s why, of the more than 17,000 laser strikes that the FBI has recorded since 2005, there have only been 80 state and federal convictions. And since the passage of stronger legislation against laser strikes in 2012, authorities have taken a harder line. A federal court in Fresno, California sentenced a man to 14 years in prison in March 2014.
"It’s very difficult to identify the perpetrator of laser strikes when you’re at 6,000 to 7,000 feet in altitude," George H. Johnson, the supervisory federal air marshal of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division, told Ars last year. "It’s exceptionally easy if the laser strike is at a rotary-winged aircraft.
However, when you’re dealing with commercial aircraft at landing or takeoff, it’s virtually impossible to give a grid coordinate to the point of strike."
UPDATE 6:58pm CT: Justin Ralenkotter, an Allegiant spokesman, wrote to Ars, noting that the first officer "was cleared to fly back to LAX after the incident. Laser strikes have been uncommon incidences in our operations."
(Cyrus Farivar - Ars Technica)