Three held after laser light attacks on planes

A SERIES of laser light attacks at Ballina have left local pilot Andrew Trease worried the culprits will strike again.

Police are investigating the incidents, which were targeted at two aircraft and a person riding a bicycle in the Ballina CBD on Monday night.

One of the planes targeted was a Cessna 172 from Air Gold Coast, which was in Ballina on a routine training flight.

Mr Trease was not involved in the incidents, but it was a 'scary thing' and concerning that 'people on the ground don't realise how serious the consequences could be'.

“If you can't see, you can't land, which is a hazard to everybody,” Mr Trease, chief pilot at Aussie Air Charters and Training, said.

“Not just for the pilot, but also the people on the ground. What if you crashed into someone's house?”

The first laser light attack happened about 6.30pm. The pilot of the Cessna 172 reported a laser beam being shone at him as he performed touch-and-go exercises at Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport.

Then almost two hours later the crew of a regional passenger plane reported a similar incident whilst landing.

Both planes touched down safely and the pilots reported the attacks to Brisbane air traffic control, police said.

About 8.50pm a person riding a bicycle across a bridge in Ballina's CBD was targeted in a third attack.

Police were called and searched three men, aged between 19 and 21, in a vehicle that was parked in Lighthouse Parade.

Police searched the car and found a green laser pointer. The men were assisting police with their inquiries.

Peter Long, owner of Air Gold Coast, said the incident was extremely dangerous.

“It caused a great distraction to the pilot,” Mr Long said.

“It is a very serious incident and we have reported it to the authorities.”

Anyone with information should contact Ballina Police on 6681 8699.

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