Just when you think 2020 couldn’t get any weirder…
Airline pilots spot “guy in a jetpack”
On Sunday evening, airline pilots on approach to LAX reported seeing a “guy in a jetpack” at around 3,000 feet, not far from their planes. The pilots of American Airlines flight 1997 from Philadelphia were the first to report the situation:
Pilot: “American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack.”
ATC: “American 1997, okay, thank you. Were they off to your left side or right side?”
Pilot: “Off the left side, maybe 300 yards or so, about our altitude.”
In case you’re thinking that pilot might be seeing things, a pilot of another aircraft reported the same:
Other pilot: “We just saw the guy passing by us in the jetpack.”
At that point air traffic control warned other planes on approach to use caution and keep an eye out for the guy with the jetpack:
ATC: “JetBlue 23, use caution, person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final, at about 3,000 feet, 10 mile final.”
Pilot: JetBlue 23, we heard and we are definitely looking.”
When Fox 11 Los Angeles asked American Airlines about this, the airline said to contact the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA said it turned over the case to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), while the LAPD says it received no such report from the FAA. So yeah, it seems like this is being investigated really thoroughly. 😉
Here’s a news story about the situation, with the air traffic control audio:
Can jetpacks do that?!?
Anything being within a few hundred yards of the LAX approach path is a serious problem, and presumably a breach of airspace. This is extremely irresponsible, both in terms of the risk to the jetpack operator, and also in terms of the risk to the aircraft, should there be a collision.
I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about jetpacks, but based on doing some online searches, it appears that at least some jetpacks can fly at an altitude of up to 2,500 feet (while most can only fly at an altitude of up to a few hundred feet).
There are ultimately few jetpacks out there (at least in comparison to drones), and I’d imagine that of the jetpacks out there, relatively few can fly as high as this one was flying. In other words, if these have to be registered with the FAA (like drones), you’d think authorities would have an easy time narrowing down who did this.
So what exactly happened here?
- Did the pilots see correctly, or was this in fact something else, or was it much further away and at a much lower altitude than believed?
- Who was operating this jetpack, and why would they do so close to the approach course? Was it a prank, or who was being this irresponsible?
I hope this is investigated thoroughly, because it sure is a strange story…
Pilots report seeing all kinds of things, but a jetpack at around 3,000 feet, just a few hundred yards from the LAX approach course, is certainly one of the stranger things. As of now there are a lot more questions than answers regarding this situation, so hopefully a proper investigation is done.
Any jetpack operators/enthusiasts have more thoughts on what could have been going on here?