Airline crew members spotted a person in a jetpack flying at an altitude of 6,000 feet high near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Wednesday.
This is the second such jetpack sighting near LAX in six weeks.
The FBI is currently investigating both cases.
Stop us if you've heard this one before: On Wednesday afternoon, crew members on an airliner flying near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) once again spotted a person in a jetpack gliding at an altitude of 6,000 feet high, a few miles northwest of the flight hub.
It’s the second time in six weeks that aviation professionals have observed someone in a jetpack flying near LAX.
At 1:45 p.m. PST, the crew of the LAX-bound China Airlines Flight 006, a Boeing 777 coming from Taipei, alerted air traffic controllers of the strange sight. Here’s part of the transcript of the conversation between the China Airlines crew and air traffic control, according to audio obtained by The War Zone:
China Airlines 006: “We just saw a bright object at 6,000.”
LAX Tower: “006 heavy can you say that one more time please?”
China Airlines 006: “We saw a flying object like a [this part is hard to decipher, but it sounded like] flight suit jetpack at 6,000.”
LAX Tower: “Was it a UAV or was it a jetpack?”
China Airlines 006: “Like a jetpack. Too shiny. It’s too far.”
LAX Tower: “006 heavy, roger, thank you… Emirates 215 heavy there was a jetpack reported about 13 miles ahead.”
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed to CNBC it received the report, and promptly alerted local law enforcement. Rest assured the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also on the case, as a spokeswoman told the New York Times the Bureau is “investigating multiple reports of what, according to witnesses, appeared to be an individual in a jetpack near LAX.”
The FBI is already digging into a similar recent escapade at LAX. On August 29, a pilot for American Airlines Flight 1997 spotted what he believed to be “a guy in a jetpack” just 300 yards to the left of his plane, which was soaring over the busy airspace above the airport at an altitude of about 3,000 feet. (Another pilot headed for LAX summed up the whole situation pretty succinctly: “Only in L.A.”)
These feats sound farfetched—especially at 6,000 feet, which the Times points out is nearly six times the height of L.A.’s Wilshire Grand Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi—but the stunts aren’t totally unprecedented. For example, an Indian pilot almost reached an altitude of 6,000 feet in a short jetpack flight in Dubai earlier this year, per the Times.
And perhaps the LAX daredevil wasn’t technically using a jetpack. In 2016, Martin Aircraft Company of New Zealand debuted a prototype that could reach a maximum speed of 46 miles per hour and a flight ceiling of 3,000 feet. The apparatus isn’t a true jetpack, as it uses twin-ducted fans, and the wearer can't put it on like a backpack—but it’s still an experimental flying device that could possibly propel a person up to the level of airplanes in the sky.
While Martin Aircraft shuttered in 2019, if someone already had their hands on the technology, it could have been in the sky. Martin intended on providing its gear to first responders for use during natural disasters and search-and-rescue missions, such as battling the wildfires that continue to blaze across California. But that appears to be a stretch.
Needless to say, flying in a jetpack in the vicinity of a commercial airliner is an extraordinarily dumb thing to do. Veer too close to the craft and you could be sucked into the engine, damage the plane, and, you know, die. Don’t be like the mysterious LAX jetpack man.
Note: The lead photo shows French pilot Franky Zapata flying his Flyboard jetpack during the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship on April 21, 2018 in Cannes.
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