A green laser directed at a Coast Guard helicopter temporarily blinded the aircrew and forced them to land abruptly Wednesday morning while attempting to search for the source of three orange flares spotted near Garden City Beach, S.C.
This is the third time in three weeks a Coast Guard search was hindered because of green lasers in the coast region known as the Grand Strand, which stretches from Little River, S.C., to Georgetown, S.C.
The aircrew had just arrived at the search area to begin searching when the laser hit the aircraft at about 1:45 a.m., forcing the aircrew to stop searching and land. One crewman received direct laser exposure and was not cleared to fly again until Wednesday afternoon.
The source of the flares was never located.
Click here for the full Coast Guard announcement with a link to an information sheet on the dangers lasers pose to pilots. Shining any laser at an aircraft is a federal offense.