MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Police have arrested a man accused of aiming a laser at airplanes en route to and taking off from a major South Florida airport, and they don’t think it was the only time he committed the crime.
In bond court Thursday morning, 61-year-old Rolando Galvan Yague stood before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Judigh K. Rubenstein as she read his charges.
“One count of misuse of a laser lighting device,” she said.
Officials said Yague used a green laser pointer and shone it into the cockpits of airplanes as they took off from and landed at Miami International Airport for about a year.
Investigators were eventually able to pinpoint the laser to a neighborhood located a mile and a half east of MIA.
Police said Yague was outside walking his dog and took out the laser pointer when he saw a plane flying above him and pointed it at the aircraft.
In the arrest report, detectives described the pointer as “an apparatus which is used to shine into the cockpit of aircraft and cause impairment to the aircraft and the pilots operating the aircraft.”
Police said the first incident was reported in March of 2020. Several reports followed for a year.
Officers said the act is significantly dangerous to passengers on planes as well as surrounding communities because it has the potential to cause the plane to crash because the glare from the laser makes it difficult for the flight crew to see.
7SkyForce pilot Joe Mancino echoed officials’ concerns.
“It’s very serious. A laser shined in the cockpit could blind a pilot,” he said.
Mancino, who has decades of flying experience and has spent 15 years flying SkyForce, said Yague could have put flight crews and passengers in danger.
“He could have caused dangerous conditions for countless people,” he said.
Police said Yague had an additional device, which he used when shining his laser.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 266 confirmed reports in 2020 of someone pointing a laser at an aircraft in Florida alone. Forty of those incidents happened in South Florida.
Yague is currently being held on $5,000 bond. He is also facing several additional charges out of Polk County.
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