Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Southwest Airlines Pilot distracted by strip club spotlight

The pilot of a Southwest Airlines flight said a bright light nearly blinded him as he was landing at Dallas Love Field on Sunday night.

The pilot of Flight 939 from Albuquerque, N.M., to Dallas, said a flash of light interfered with his vision about four miles out from the airport.

"All of a sudden, a bright flash of light, and their night vision is destroyed, and it takes a while to come back," said Lynn Lunsford, of the Federal Aviation Administration. "When a laser goes off, it's like a flash bulb going off in your eye."

Dallas police traced the mystery light to a rotating spotlight on the roof of Bomb Shells Cabaret, an all-nude strip club near Interstate 35 and Walnut Hill. "It's been running for two years, and we've had no problems with it until now," said Zach Carson, the club's general manager. Carson said he personally disconnected the light and will not turn it on again until it's positioned at a safe angle.

"I'm not one for blinding planes," he said. "I believe that planes should be able to land properly."

While the incident turned out to be an accident, the FAA said most cases of laser events are intentional.

And the number of lights pointed at airplanes has skyrocketed in the last few years, authorities say. Last year, 143 laser strikes on planes were reported in Texas alone.

Pointing a light at a plane is considered interfering with the safety of a flight crew, a federal crime.

(Dallas-Fort Worth - NBC Local News)

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