PORTLAND -- At a busy Portland International Airport, chatter between the cockpit and control tower is just a fraction of what happens during a final approach. Retired pilot Jim Hummel knows that first hand.
"You're running the final checklist to make sure everything is where it should be," said Hummel. "You're getting the airplane configured for the landing phase."
The last thing a pilot needs is more distraction, but over the course of the last year and a half distractions have been a problem at the airport, which sees more than 500 flights each day.
"People aren't using their heads when they do these stunts," said Hummel.
The former American Airlines pilot is reacting to news that lasers are being pointed right into the eyes of commercial airline pilots. So far this year there have been 54 reported incidents at PDX. All of last year there were 51.
"I'm shocked," said Hummel. "A pilot and crew members can become incapacitated if they get hit with a laser."
According to airport officials, a majority of the cases are occurring east of the airport, in the Gateway area. It is happening most during landings.
"The way it works is the pilot sees the lasers, they call the tower, they contact police, and if we have someone on the ground in the area we'll try to find them," said Steve Johnson, spokesman for the Port of Portland.
So far there have been no arrests. That concerns Hummel, who spent 27 years flying commercially.
"This is not a laughing matter," said Hummel. "It's not a joke and nobody takes it as a joke."
If you have any information about this growing problem you are urged to call authorities. Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information.