As the deepening crisis of confidence in Egypt’s Mohammad Morsi unfolds in the country’s streets, a video shot yesterday offered a dose of the surreal: a military helicopter hovering over Tahrir Square with protestor laser beams dancing kaleidoscopically on the aircraft’s belly. The footage, published on the YouTube channel of an Egyptian video news site, shows a sky full of fireworks giving way to a military helicopter, which is quickly targeted by a staggering number of laser pointers. These shaky beams — mostly green — are ostensibly meant to distract the pilots, and the sheer number of them demonstrates the preparedness of Egypt’s protestors two and a half years after historic mass actions toppled the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak.
The Aviationist, an aircraft blog, reports that the searchlight-equipped military chopper is likely a Soviet Mi-8/17 Hip. Though it’s impossible to tell whether the laser pointers disrupted the Egyptian military’s helicopter mission as intended, there has been a crackdown in the United States on this very behavior in recent years, with one California teenager receiving 30 months in jail for shining a laser pointer at an airplane. The FAA claims it gets thousands of complaints regarding such laser pointer abuse annually, though only a handful are prosecuted, and the FBI produced a video about it in 2011.
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