"We just passed a guy in a jetpack ..."
It was a typical day for air traffic in Los Angeles ... until an unidentified daredevil decided to fly around in a jet pack near incoming airplanes.
The sighting was not isolated; at least two pilots reported seeing a man in a jet pack flying near LAX airport. This all happened on Sunday, August 30.
Below is a breakdown of the reports radioed in to air traffic control:
American Flight 1997: "Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack."
The tower responded: "American 1997, OK, thank you. Were they off to your left or right side?"
American Flight 1997: "Off the left side, maybe 300-30 yards or so, about our altitude."
Another flight chimed in, a Skywest flight responded: "We just saw the guy passing by us in the jetpack."
Tower: "Jet Blue 23, use caution, a person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final at about 3,000 feet, 10 mile final."
Jet Blue Flight 23: "Jet Blue 23, we heard, and we are definitely looking."
Another pilot chimed in with what everyone must have been thinking: "Only in LA."
The full transcript from the control tower can be heard here.
The FAA investigated the incident then turned it over to LAPD and the FBI, who are currently investigating the sighting. All attempts to speak to the pilots or airlines by media have been referred to the LAPD, FAA, or FBI. No one has yet come forward to claim responsibility or share the technology that allowed them to fly as high as an airplane.
What happened appears to be a mystery and until someone comes clean or gives more information, it looks like it will remain that way. There are a few companies out there building jet packs and some that may have the technology to fly at 3,000 feet. None of the known companies have claimed accountability for Sunday’s sighting and none of the companies known to make jet packs have their products for sale.
Whoever it was flying around LA on Sunday is either an employee of one of them, a brilliant home inventor, the real-life Tony Stark, or possibly acquired one by some other more creative means.
While jet packs are not easy to find, once a person has one they do not need any special permissions or license to fly one. The FAA does not issue licenses for jet packs, and they are considered a lightweight craft that doesn't need to be registered, nor would the pilot need a pilot's license. However, ultralight aircraft is only allowed to fly during the day, cannot fly over very populated areas, and cannot fly in controlled airspace.
What do you think about this big mystery? What would you do if you saw someone flying right outside your airplane window? Sound off in the comments.