Pilots of three planes headed to Dallas reported their aircrafts being struck by lasers Wednesday night, the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed to local television station KXAS.
The planes involved were from Southwest Airlines, Virgin America and a private business jet. The incidents were reported at roughly 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to KXAS. The planes were flying at altitudes between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.
FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told the New York Times the laser beamed from 11 miles southeast of Dallas, and law enforcement helicopters are investigating.
Pointing lasers at aircrafts is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail, the FBI reports. In 2014, the FBI launched a program that offers rewards for information on individuals who engage in the crime.
When a laser hits the plexiglass windshield of an aircraft, according to the FBI, its light expands over the windshield and creates a blinking strobe light effect — a dangerous distraction for the pilot. The hazard can be a distraction to planes flying at up to 12,000 feet. Those who have been affected by this crime describe it as a camera's flash going off in pitch black.