Search AeroXplorer
Man Sentenced After Laser Pointed at Delta Air Lines Aircraft

Man Sentenced After Laser Pointed at Delta Air Lines Aircraft


A man who endangered passengers and crew by directing a laser at a Delta Air Lines (DL) aircraft has been sentenced for his crime.


Photo: Andrew Seong | AeroXplorer

On Thursday last week, a federal judge in Wisconsin sentenced the man to two years in prison for an incident that took place in 2021.


James Link, a 43-year-old resident of Rochester, Minnesota, pleaded blameworthy in January this year to pointing a laser at the aircraft, reported The Independent.




Laser Incident


According to the Justice Department, in a statement released by the US attorney's office in Madison, on 29 October 2021, while flying from Raleigh-Durham to Minneapolis, the pilots of a DL plane reported being hit by a laser three times.

The cockpit was illuminated with a blue laser while flying at an altitude of 9,000ft, just west of River Falls, Wisconsin.




This incident caused a significant distraction in the cockpit, and the pilots had to instruct air traffic control to change runways as they were unable to look at their iPads to brief the new approach.

Although the plane landed without any damage, one of the captains reported that he had vision problems in his right eye for a few hours after the incident.

After the incident, air traffic control contacted a Minnesota State Patrol aircraft to investigate the matter. Still, unfortunately, its pilots were also targeted by a blue laser as they circled over River Falls on the same evening.


Photo: Ejaaz Cadinouche | AeroXplorer


Court Judgement

According to the statement by prosecutors, the suspect was identified using the aircraft's surveillance equipment, and local law enforcement was contacted to locate him.


Photo: Seth Johnson | AeroXplorer


In court, the flight captain described the laser's brightness as similar to suddenly turning on all the lights in a dark room, which was highly dangerous during the critical phase of flight operations. The judge, William M Conley, described the act as incredibly dangerous and reckless, putting everyone on board in incredible danger.

The court also noted the defendant's extensive criminal record, including numerous domestic assaults and an incident in 2017 where he shined a handheld flashlight in the eyes of an arresting officer.



According to figures from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), incidents involving lasers being aimed at planes and helicopters reached a record high in 2021, with a 41 percent increase from the previous year.

Bhavya Velani
An Aircraft maintenance engineering graduate and passionate aviation journalist with experience in working with a renowned publication such as Airlive, Airways Magazine Aviation A2Z,etc During my free time, I watch documentaries and read nonfiction books.

Comments (10)

Rounda Earther This is one of the most inaccurate and poorly written articles on “all things aviation”, that I have read in a long time. As soon as I read, “One of the Capatains reported...”, I knew Mr. Bahvya here has as much credibility reporting on aviation, as Rep. Hank Johnson (the Guam capsize guy) has as a brilliant statesman. Nice “file photos” to attempt to pass this off as soil reporting BTW...
37d ago • Reply
RICHARD HODGES Wow. Why on earth would anyone do this? Incredibly reckless but I guess you can't cure stupid. 2 years doesn't seem long enough....
55d ago • Reply
Steven he should get life not 2 years in prison for what he did
Gayford Evan-Hart I agree with the comment from Mr. Hodges, having spent all my working life associated with aircraft. and having suffered slight eye damage due to a NdYag laser. If all the wrong factors combine it can result in retina burns which are irreversible. If the factors had combined in this case, both pilots could have lost their eyesight and been unable to fly the aircraft. In this case Link could have committed mass homicide. Two years is definitely not enough, his punishment should remind him of his stupidity every day for the rest of his life.
55d ago • Reply
Oscar I still think that pointing a laser beam to someone at that distance requires some accuracy and knowledge and I see that the perpetrator used the aircraft surveillance system. I don't know how that works but this tells me that this person knew more than the average Joe to commit this reckless action. Adding his criminal history, he should have been given more jail time or fined severely. If, as a result of his stupidity the plane would have crashed, the damage would have been significantly more and he would have been probably accused of second degree murder. Life in prison was just as close as it gets If it wasn't for the pilot's ability to maneuver in such conditions. So, if cases have risen and the culprit can be found which is another reason why it shouldn't be penalized with only a slap on the wrist as law enforcement also has to do their investigation in finding the individual who did it. I'd say jail them for at least 10 years.
55d ago • Reply
Adam reading comprehension? Camera on plane was used to locate him. Also, it didn't require much effort for this criminal to point out, since you can see these powerful lasers in the air.
Osca Correction: I said that the suspect used the aircraft surveillance system, but that actually didn't make sense. The surveillance system on the aircraft was used to zero in the suspect. So they can be identified. Still penalties should be more severe.
55d ago • Reply
Henry E. Romance all aircrew know their position before landing. they use the outer, inner beacon which tells them their exact position and the exact time , also GPS would be used to find this idiot.
53d ago • Reply
Adam and thousands of houses on the flight path at this time..... You need camera to see where the beam is coming from. Penalties seem not enough deterrent alone as most don't care about penalties when they do stupid things. Higher penalties will not help, sadly
John Rogers Henry, What beacons are you referring to? I'm not familiar with those.

Add Your Comment



NEWS Delta Air Lines Laser Pointing Incident Wisconsin Arrest


Spirit's Inaugural A321neo Flight Lands in Chicago American low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines recently completed the inaugural revenue service of its brand-new Airbus A321neo. The flight operated on June 7th, 2023 from Fort Lauderdale to Chicago. NEWS READ MORE »
Air India 777 Diverts to Russian City Following Engine Problems On June 6, an Air India Boeing 777-200LR, possibly with U.S. citizens onboard, was forced to divert to a Russian airport after a technical issue with one of the aircraft's engines. NEWS READ MORE »
PGA Tour and LIV Golf Merger: What's in it for Airlines? The PGA Tour and LIV Golf have announced plans to merge into one global golf league after months of legal disputes. The merger is expected to have a significant impact on golf, including in terms of the airlines that currently sponsor the existing leagues. Who will be the league's official airline in the future? NEWS READ MORE »


NEW!AeroXplorer Aviation Sweater Use code AVGEEK for 10% off! BUY NOW