Stunned airline pilots landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reported seeing a “a guy in a jetpack” flying some 300 yards off their port side as they came in for landing.
A recording of the conversation between the pilots and air traffic controllers on Sunday, August 30 has just been released. The pilots can be heard saying “Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack.”
Ground controllers responded, asking for a specific location on the rocketeer, and shortly afterwards a second report of the jetpack came in from Skywest airliner, saying : “We just saw the guy passing by us in the jetpack.”
The tower issued a warning to incoming planes, saying “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.”
While practical working jetpacks have been demonstrated, they’re still limited to quite short range flights. Richard Browning, the so-called “Jetman”, set a speed record with a suit of his own design in November last – but flight times are limited by the quantity of fuel that the packs can carry.
Earlier in 2019, French inventor Franky Zapata made the first-ever successful Channel crossing on a jet-powered flyboard – a sort of airborne surfboard powered by a kerosene-filled backpack.
The most dangerous part of the feat, he told reporters, was halfway across when he had to “refuel” by switching to a second backpack.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said the flyboard could serve several purposes, “for example as a flying logistical platform or, indeed, as an assault platform”.
The person or persons behind the LAX incident are at this point unknown. Flying a jetpack in one of the busiest pieces of airspace on the continental US without filing a flight plan is dangerous and potentially disastrous.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Fox11 that they had passed their report on the incident to the LAPD for followup, but mysteriously a LAPD spokesperson told the station that received no such report from the FAA.
The Drive speculates that it’s possible that this was “some sort of a drone that was made to look like a dude with a jetpack.”