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:
- In August 2020, an American Airlines pilot reported seeing “a guy in a jetpack,” and this is something that was corroborated by another pilot
- Then in October 2020, a China Airlines pilot reported seeing a guy in a jetpack as well while on approach, though he didn’t say it with quite as much certainty
- Then in December 2020, flight instructors caught a jetpack on camera, over the Pacific Ocean and near Palos Verdes
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?
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?