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Laser pointer incidents with airplanes on the rise

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An airline passenger said he was temporarily blinded earlier this week by a laser pointer aimed at his plane as it landed at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The number of similar reports received by the Federal Aviation Administration is soaring. FAA reports 4,024 such incidents so far this year compared to 3,895 in 2014.

"It was definitely terrifying," Delta Air Lines passenger Scott Reynolds said.

Reynolds described over Skype from Virginia what happened to him minutes before his flight from West Palm Beach landed Wednesday night in Atlanta.

"A green light hit my left eye, and I jumped, because when a green light blinds you, at first, you think the engine blew up or something outside your window happened," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the green light flashed him a second time.

"At that point, I knew it was a laser or something from the ground, and then I looked down and I could see the green laser moving around," Reynolds said.

It's illegal to shine laser pointers at planes.

"It bathes the aircraft in a green light, and if it hits a pilot's eye it can be very dangerous,” said Capt. Rick Dominquez, executive administrator of the Air Line Pilots Association.

"Delta is in touch with the FAA on this episode and will do everything it can to assist the FAA and other authorities to investigate and apprehend perpetrators," a Delta spokesperson said in an email.

Anyone who gets caught aiming a laser pointer at a plane could face a federal fine as high as $11,000. Congress is considering legislation that would make it a criminal offense.

10 things you didn't know about aviation

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Wednesday, Aug. 19, is National Aviation Day, in celebration of Orville Wright's 144th birthday. National Aviation Day was established in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Here are 10 more facts about aviation that you probably didn't know:

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1. KLM Airlines, Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Royal Aviation Company), was founded in 1919, making it the world's oldest airline still operating under its original name.

2. The air pressure onboard an airplane affects your sense of taste.

3. Although the Hindenburg was filled with 7 million cubic feet of highly combustible gas, there was a smoker’s lounge onboard.

4. The first female flight attendants were hired in 1930 by United Airlines.

5. The German airline Lufthansa purchases more than 10 tons of caviar per year.

6. Hijacking an airplane was not officially outlawed until 1961.

7. An estimated 25 percent of passengers pay full price for first class.

8. The other 75 percent receive upgrades, use frequent-flyer miles or are employed by the airline.

9. Stewardess is the longest word in the English language that is typed entirely with the left hand.

10. The next time you are flying the friendly skies, remember: Statistically, it's the safest way to travel.

5 things to know about possible MH370 debris found on Reunion Island

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A U.S. official says air safety investigators have a "high degree of confidence" that debris found in the Indian Ocean is from a wing component of a Boeing 777 aircraft – the same model as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared last year.

Here's what we know so far about investigators' findings.

1. Coastal workers found the wreckage Wednesday. The 6.5- to 8-foot-long piece of debris appears to be a "flaperon" – part of an aircraft wing – that has been in the water for a long time and collected sea life.

>> RELATED: US official: Debris belongs to same type of aircraft as missing Malaysia plane

2. Officials believe the debris is from a Boeing 777. According to The Associated Press, a U.S. official who declined to be identified says investigators — including one from Boeing — identified the wreckage as a piece of a 777 aircraft. French law enforcement is on the scene to examine the debris, and Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said a team is headed to Reunion Island.

"Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can ever confirm that it is belonged to MH370," Lai said.

>> PHOTOS: 777 debris found on Indian Ocean island

3. There are no other missing Boeing 777s. If the wreckage is confirmed to be from a Boeing 777, "it would almost certainly have to belong to Flight 370," the AP reports. Officials believe that flight crashed in the southern Indian Ocean 16 months ago.

>> RELATED: Timeline of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

4. The debris was found nearly 2,650 miles away from the current MH370 search site in the southern Indian Ocean. According to the AP, Reunion Island is more than 3,500 miles away from the last known location of MH370.

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5. Could currents have carried MH370 wreckage to Reunion Island? "Someone's going to have to really reverse-engineer the flow pattern of the ocean and try and backtrack where this may have floated from," Greg Feith, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said in an interview with NBC News.

Mashable adds that it is possible that "debris from a plane crash 16 months ago ... made a circuitous and meandering journey" to an island thousands of miles away.

Plane almost runs out of fuel as frantic pilot tries to land at closed airport

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The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking answers from Allegiant Air about why one of its planes, carrying 144 passengers, nearly ran out of fuel before making an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota.

Not only was the plane low on fuel, but its pilots also apparently didn’t know their destination, Fargo’s Hector International Airport, had been temporarily closed last Thursday to allow the Navy Blue Angels flying team to practice.

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In an audio captured by, an air traffic controller can be heard telling an Allegiant pilot that the cockpit crew should have known about the closure, which had been scheduled “for months.”

When the control tower suggested that the plane, which was arriving from Las Vegas, should land elsewhere, the pilot responded that in “three to four minutes” the plane would have “bingo” fuel, meaning it would be out of fuel.

“We don’t have enough fuel to go anywhere else,” the pilot said with panic in his voice.

See the full story from the Tampa Bay Times here.

'Disturbance' forces United Airlines flight to return to Washington

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A United Airlines flight was forced to head back to Dulles International Airport near Washington shortly after takeoff Monday night due to an onboard "disturbance," an airport spokeswoman said.

KMGH-TV reported that a passenger aboard Flight 1074 to Denver "failed to comply with crew instructions," according to a United statement. After the Boeing 737 returned to Dulles about 10:40 p.m., law enforcement officials detained the passenger, who was then taken to the hospital, airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said.

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A passenger told KMGH that a man had tried to rush the cockpit. An unverified video and photos posted to website Reddit appeared to show a man being subdued, the Washington Post reported.

Gibbs said officials found no weapons, and none of the flight's 33 passengers was hurt in the incident. 

Visit KMGH or the Washington Post to read the full story.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "'Disturbance' forces United Airlines flight to return to Washington" on Storify]

11 presumed dead after Army helicopter crashes in Florida Panhandle

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Seven Marines and four soldiers are presumed dead after an Army helicopter crashed Tuesday night during a training exercise at Florida's Eglin Air Force Base, The Associated Press reports

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Click here or scroll down to see the latest information from social media.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "7 Marines, 4 soldiers missing after helicopter crashes in Florida Panhandle" on Storify]

Must-see: Delta flight with only 2 passengers travels from Cleveland to New York (PHOTOS)

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Best. Flight. Ever.

A Delta Air Lines plane headed from Cleveland to New York was scheduled to leave at 7:15 a.m. Jan. 12. That trip was canceled, leaving Chris O’Leary of New York on a 9:39 a.m. flight. But Delta delayed that trip and rebooked most of the passengers onto other flights. However, O'Leary had returned to his hotel and missed those chances.

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When he came back to the airport, he was put aboard a plane with no other passengers. “Got a personal safety briefing from my two flight attendants," O’Leary tweeted before the plane left. 

A few minutes later, another message said, “The thrill is gone, you guys. Just as we were about to push back, they reconnected the jet bridge to let a second passenger on the flight."

Chris told ABC News that the two didn’t talk. 

We’re all accustomed to full flights, but when planes are needed in other cities for connections, they do sometimes fly with reduced crowds.

Click here or scroll down to see O'Leary's tweets from the trip.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//;border=false"></script>[View the story "Delta flight takes only two passengers from Cleveland to New York (PHOTOS)" on Storify]

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