HOUSTON - A 20-year-old Houston man has entered a guilty
aiming a laser pointer at an
aircraft, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Bryan Aldana, 20, admitted that on June 23, 2018, he
pointed a green laser light at an Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter while it was in
On June 23, 2018, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
agents were flying a the helicopter on routine law enforcement patrol. At
approximately 9:00 p.m., they were headed in the northwest direction along
highway US-290 when agents observed a flash of green light coming from the left
side of the aircraft. At the time, they were at approximately 1000 feet
elevation and traveling at a speed of 70-80 knots.
The pilot reversed the aircraft back to the southeast
direction and was illuminated again by the green laser, which was powerful
enough to light up the entire cockpit. The light caused a glare in the pilot's
eyes and obstructed his vision, forcing him to turn his head and maneuver the
Airbus away from it. The pilot also had to close and shield his eyes from the
flashing green laser inside the cockpit.
The investigation led to the source of the light at a
business near the intersection of Hollister and Pitner Roads in Houston. With
the help of the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the store's security
cameras, Aldema was soon identified.
Video recordings show Aldana aiming a green laser up in
the sky several times and a green laser pointer at the helicopter while sitting
in a chair next to a silver sedan. He was also seen placing the green laser
device through the opening of the silver sedan window on to the backseat.
Officers seized the laser and submitted it to a National
Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist to be examined. The scientist
concluded the laser pointer is a Class IIIB laser system and produced a
"laser beam" which could result in serious and possibly permanent
U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes accepted the plea and
set sentencing for July 22, 2019. At that time, Aldana faces up to five years
in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. He was permitted to remain on
bond pending that hearing.
The FBI, HPD and DPS conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Porto is prosecuting the case.