New Theories Emerge About “LAX Jetpack Guy”

Filed Under: Misc.

A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has revealed some new insights into the mysterious “LAX jetpack guy.”

Basics of the LAX jetpack guy

In the past few months there have been several reports of a “jetpack guy” flying dangerously close to planes near LAX:

This situation is incredibly mysterious for a variety of reasons:

  • This jetpack was being operated in restricted airspace, just hundreds of feet from commercial aircraft, which is dangerous and reckless
  • There aren’t many jetpacks that can operate at altitudes of 3,000+ feet, so that narrows down those who could be involved
  • What is someone’s motive for even doing this, given that they could be looking at serious punishment for operating a jetpack in a restricted area?
  • How has not a single person publicly come forward and said “hey, I know that person” or “I saw that person take off in a jetpack,” given that jetpacks tend to draw attention?
  • Why would someone fly a jetpack out over the open ocean, which is incredibly dangerous and unusual?

An FOIA request reveals new jetpack theories

The Black Vault submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding this incident, which reveals much of the internal communication that has taken place with this investigation. Those 25 pages of documents are now published online, and present some new theories.

It’s fascinating to read this kind of stuff in general, but in particular to see where investigators’ minds are at. There are a few things that stand out.

First of all, the FBI interviewed the American Airlines pilot who first reported the guy in the jetpack, and he was shown this video of a drone made to look like a jetpack. The pilot confirmed that what he saw looked exactly like this:

Then there’s mention of how investigators spoke with the chief test pilot at Jetpack Aviation in Van Nuys, and he said that they hadn’t flown for months, and that he doesn’t believe there are any jetpack operators who could get to 3,000 feet and sustain that altitude. Since the jetpack was allegedly at a high altitude for quite a while, that raises even more doubt.

Then an ABC journalist also sent an email with the following:

“Do we have video of the person using the jetpack from last week’s incident? I found this Facebook post below. The person who shared it is a community leader and lives in Cudahy.”

Unfortunately the video link in the post no longer seems to work, best I can tell, so I’m not sure what that video was of. If anyone has an idea, I’d be curious. Regardless, it’s allegedly by someone from Cudahy, which is near where these sightings were reported.

Was this actually a drone made to look like a jetpack?

It looks increasingly likely that the “LAX jetpack guy” was in fact a drone that was made to look like a jetpack. Jetpacks typically can’t sustain high altitudes as long as drones can, and based on the jetpack having allegedly been at such a high altitude for several minutes, that seems unlikely.

That still leaves the question of why someone would do this:

  • Why would you show such a disregard for others by doing this in busy airspace, close to commercial aircraft?
  • Why was a drone-looking-thing spotted out over the open ocean, where it isn’t even likely to attract much attention?

Bottom line

A new FOIA request reveals that the “LAX jetpack guy” was most likely a drone dressed up as a jetpack. That still leaves more questions than answers — who is behind this, and what was their motive?

What do you make of the updates to the LAX jetpack situation based on the FOIA request?

  1. As for the two very good questions:
    (“Why would you show such a disregard for others by doing this in busy airspace, close to commercial aircraft?” and
    “Why was a drone-looking-thing spotted out over the open ocean, where it isn’t even likely to attract much attention?”)
    — I would add, if it’s a drone that can do the things it’s doing, it’s got to be very expensive, so why would even somebody without social ethics (like the disregard for others thing — unfortunately too common these days), why would they put their inevitably extremely expensive toy at risk by running it with commercial aircraft and over open ocean? That to me militates against the drone theory. Something that can stay up for long periods at 3,000 feet has got to be pricey. And somebody with the money and skill to build one wouldn’t want to lose it with stupid flight patterns.

  2. @Sheryl You’re forgetting that this is LA and there are thousands of “influencers” that are mostly idiots and would definitely pull a stupid stunt like this. Risking their expensive drone doesn’t matter to them because they’ve never had to do real work to earn money. There are also thousands more trust fund babies in LA that would do this too. I’m just surprised whoever is responsible hasn’t been stupid enough to post it on social media. That makes me think it’s probably a trust fund baby vs an influencer. Most “influencers” couldn’t resist posting it because they literally live off of attention.

  3. It’s not a drone either. Location, altitude, and time aloft would preclude a drone like this from these sightings as well (they have the same issue as an actual jetpack – energy consumption to maintain altitude on an object of this size). Occam’s Razor suggests it is a helium-filled person-sized balloon. Reaching and maintaining that altitude is simple with such a device, cheap, and easily mistaken as “flying” with the wind speeds at altitude and the movement relative to the observer in an aircraft. I can’t understand why everyone seems to push for the most complicated answer to this mystery at each step – “it’s a guy flying a jetpack”, “can’t be that, must be a drone flying at 6,000 feet”, etc.

  4. Wesley,
    theses assumptions about “influencers”, “trust fund babies”, and people that live in Los Angeles seem a bit misplaced. perhaps you are none of these and that’s fine but…I think your projections are pretty negative considering what this piece was about. take a breath.

  5. As a pilot, I’m more concerned with the probability this is a drone than an actual person piloting. A pilot can react to a situation. I remote pilot (drone) does not have the same situational awareness. For the moment, this is an entertaining story and a bit of a mystery. At some point however, a significant accident will occur between an aircraft and a drone. This is dangerous stuff when drones are flying into B,C,D & even E airspace.

  6. What is their motive ? Probably the entertainment factor at watching people’s reactions and people writing stories about it.

  7. “And somebody with the money and skill to build one wouldn’t want to lose it with stupid flight patterns.”

    Because god knows no one with money and skill has ever, say, launched a car into space, just to show off.

  8. It’s Iron Man! Someone has reversed engineered a comic book theme & is testing it. Or has access to some really advanced technology.

    What people are forgetting about the theory of a drone/helium person-shaped balloon is the velocity, height and duration required to pull off what is being reported. Modern jetliners need to travel at 200 MPH to maintain flight or they’ll fall out of the sky. I am unaware of any drones that can do that, unless you count military weapon based packages, and no one would confuse them as being humanoid shaped. And the military wouldn’t test them in or near commercial airspace.

    Is it ET? It qualifies as Unidentified Flying Object, albeit humanoid shaped.

  9. Pretty sure someone on tiktok already stated he cgi generated this video as a prank and it blew up after a few people wanted to jump on the band wagon and say they saw it too after watching the news story

  10. Kyle is absolutely correct. As a fellow pilot, I agree with his concern over this very serious situation. An airliner ingesting whatever this is into an engine can be disastrous. Remember what birds did to cause the Miracle on the Hudson incident and that time it was a successful (in terms of lives) outcome. This object, whatever it is, needs to be removed from the airspace and the person held responsible before they have blood on their hands.

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