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Monday, June 30, 2014

Man Pleads Guilty to Harassing Army Helicopter Crews

By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large

A resident of the City of North Pole, Alaska, has pled guilty to one count of assaulting U.S. military personnel performing official duties. The incident occurred when Daniel Lee Slayden aimed spotlights and fired mortar-launched fireworks at U.S. Army helicopters flying out of Fort Wainwright’s Ladd AAF (FBK) in the fall of 2013.

Court documents show that Slayden had recently purchased a home in the small Fairbanks suburb without being aware that low-flying aircraft from Ladd AAF – located 10 n.m. northeast – are common in the area. He made several calls to the public affairs office at the base to complain about the noise and the lights shining in his windows, but felt that he was being ignored. So, by his own admission, on approximately 12 occasions in fall 2013 he launched fireworks toward the helicopters to “give it back to them,” but not, he said, with the intention of hitting them. He also admitted to shining a 12-volt spotlight at them.

Pilots flying the helicopters said Slayden’s projectiles, which exploded approximately 300 feet beneath their aircraft, and his spotlights put them in danger by temporarily blinding them and interfering with their night vision goggles, thus constituting an assault.

The maximum penalty for assaulting military personnel performing official duties is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. But a plea agreement reportedly struck between Slayden and prosecutors is expected to result in a sentence of three years probation, a fine of $12,500, and the surrender of all devices used in the offense.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 2.

Related: Police Helicopter News

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