The crew aboard Air-1, the Winnipeg police helicopter, had some scary moments early Sunday morning when someone aimed a green laser pointer at the aircraft while it was flying over the Red River Exhibition grounds.
Air-1 was called to the fair grounds shortly after midnight on reports of a group of males causing a disturbance, said Const. Jason Michalyshen.
"Upon their arrival, Air-1 began scanning the area, and while they were doing so the helicopter was struck with a green laser which filled the cockpit with a green light, placing the entire crew and aircraft at significant risk," he told CBC News.
The light from the laser was so bright, the pilot had to manoeuvre the helicopter to avoid it, he added.
Michalyshen said the suspect aimed the laser in the direction of the helicopter "on multiple occasions" before getting into a vehicle heading south on the Perimeter Highway.
Officers on the ground, with the help of the Air-1 crew, were able to track it partly because someone in the vehicle was turning the laser pointer on and off.
The vehicle was stopped in the Setter Street area about 15 minutes later. The suspect was arrested and a green laser pointer was seized by officers, Michalyshen said.
The 18-year-old man, whose name was not released, faces a charge of mischief endangering life and a charge under federal aviation regulations of projecting a light source into a navigable air space. He was released on a notice to appear in court at a later date.
"Some people might not think of the type of danger and risk that crew members are placed in when laser pointers are pointed at any type of aircraft," Michalyshen said.
"The type of windshield in a helicopter, it has that bubble formation, and what it does is it really just fills the entire cockpit with this green light. It ultimately blinds the crew," he added.
"When we are talking about an aircraft of this nature and the sensitivity and the importance of maintaining control at all times, it really puts everybody at risk."