MASSENA - A Massena man has been charged with shining a bright light into the cockpit of a Cape Air plane as it made its final approach to land Wednesday night at the Massena Airport.
Massena-based state police charged Michael D. Euto, 49, of 362 County Route 37, Massena, with six counts of second-degree reckless endangerment.
He was arraigned by Massena Town Justice Gerald P. Sharlow and sent to the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility with bail set at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.
Troopers said they received a complaint from Massena International Airport at 7:25 p.m. Wednesday about the incident. The pilot had reported a bright, bright light came into the cockpit when they were on their final approach and affected the vision of the pilot and co-pilot, state police Cpt. Michael J. Girard said.
Troopers canvassed the neighborhood Wednesday night and returned to the neighborhood Thursday morning after receiving additional information about the location of the incident.
When we got to this gentlemans house, he soon became a suspect. He produced a light on a stand that has 18 million candlepower, Cpt. Girard said.
He said the gravity of the situation was magnified since the Cape Air planes flying into the Massena airport land using visual flight rules. They land without instrumentation. They virtually have to see to land the plane, he noted.
There were two crew members and four passengers on the flight at the time of the incident.
Kurt E. Thomas, in a statement he signed for police, said he was piloting the Cessna 402 in for landing when the plane was lit up by a spotlight. The spotlight shining into the cockpit created an unsafe situation by effecting my night vision, he said.
Euto told troopers he was not initially aware he was shining his spotlight on a plane. He said he was inside his residence Wednesday night when his nephew, Kurtis Moore, said, What the hell is that.:
Euto, in the statement he signed for police, said he looked out sliding glass doors on the corner of his house.
The thing was I didnt hear noise. You would think I would have heard noise. I just saw lights just barely above the trees. Without thinking, I grabbed the spot light and shined in on the lights. Then after shining the spotlight on the lights, my nephew shouted, Its a plane. I said, Oh ... and shut the light off, Euto told troopers.
He noted he had explained the danger of shining lasers into the cockpits of planes or cars earlier that same day.
That is the Gods honesty truth. It happened so quick I should have known. I feel like a ... fool for not only going against what I told my son, but endangering the lives of the people on the plane. I am sorry, he added in his statement.
Troopers said the Federal Aviation Administration, who did not return calls seeking comment on Thursday, is also investigating the incident.