Effingham County man sentenced to federal prison for aiming laser at commercial aircraft

Passenger plane landing. Stock Photo.
Passenger plane landing. Stock Photo.

SAVANNAH, GA:  An Effingham County resident has been sentenced to federal prison after admitting he aimed a powerful laser at commercial aircraft.

Roger Floyd Hendricks, 48, of Rincon, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft, said David H. Estes, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. also ordered Hendricks to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

“With the public’s assistance, the FBI did an outstanding job of identifying Roger Hendricks as the man responsible for aiming a powerful laser at inbound Savannah aircraft,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Estes. “Laser strikes are potentially deadly not only for pilots blinded by the lasers, but also for air travelers and residents in the path of aircraft. Hendricks is being held accountable for his criminal actions.”

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The investigation began in February 2020 when the Federal Aviation Administration asked the FBI in February for assistance in locating the source of three separate green laser strikes on aircraft inbound to the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. A victim pilot, who is a retired Marine Corps officer, helped pinpoint the origin of the strikes, and after Hendricks was identified and questioned by FBI agents, he later admitted responsibility and pled guilty May 3 in U.S. District Court.

“Hendricks needlessly threatened the safety of the passengers and crew of a commercial aircraft. It is important for the public to understand that pointing any laser, even a small one, at an aircraft can obscure the pilot’s view and jeopardize the safe operations of the aircraft,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Hopefully this sentencing will send a message that the FBI will not tolerate those engaging in this dangerous behavior and that they will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”   

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The case was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer G. Solari and Joshua S. Bearden.

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