SAINT JAMES, NY (CBSNewYork) — A 21-year-old Long Island man is accused of using a laser to interrupt a flight as it flew over Suffolk County.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports

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Green lasers are sold on the internet and are so powerful, they could cause a pilot to lose control, said Suffolk County police inspector Stewart Cameron.

“These powerful lasers beams can travel hundreds to thousands of feet,” said Cameron.

The inspector says a private airplane was traveling near MacArthur Airport when someone pointed a laser at the pilot, blinding him for a few moments.

That’s when police were then called.

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“We sent one of our helicopters to investigate and it was also lased,” said Cameron.

Soon after, 21-year-old David Smith of Saint James was arrested. He’s facing local police charges and the case was also turned over to the terrorism task force.

“Some people may think this is a harmless prank, but if the pilot is blinded, it could result in an aircraft accident,” Cameron said.

Smith is charged with obstructing government administration. The case is still ongoing.

According to the FAA, laser incident reports have increased dramatically. There were 300 reports in 2005 and 2,836 in 2010.

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