Another jetpack sighting over L.A. heightens the mystery

A child climbs a tree as a jetliner makes a landing at LAX on Christmas Eve,
A plane flies beneath heavy clouds at LAX. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

The case of the "jetpack man" flying over Los Angeles has taken another turn with a new video purporting to show an object flying off the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The latest sighting occurred Dec. 21 but only added to the mystery. According to the Drive website, the jetpack was seen by people on an instructional flight out of Torrance airport. Someone with Sling Pilot Academy took a video of the object, which flies at a high rate of speed for several seconds before going out of frame.

The FBI is already examining two earlier sightings. As for the Palos Verdes Peninsula incident, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said: "We're aware of it and are continuing to investigate the reports."

In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said it had not "received any recent reports from pilots who believe they may have seen someone in a jetpack in the skies around Los Angeles."

"The FAA has taken the sighting reports it has received seriously, and has worked closely with the FBI to investigate them," the statement added. "However, the FAA has been unable to validate the reports.”

The first sighting occurred Aug. 30, when an American Airlines pilot radioed in with an unbelievable report. “Tower, American 1997. We just passed a guy in a jetpack," the pilot said. Minutes later came another report, this time from a pilot approaching LAX in a Jet Blue airliner: “We just saw the guy pass us by in the jetpack.”

The in October, a China Airlines pilot approaching LAX reported seeing a jetpack flying at an altitude of 6,000 feet. That’s more than a mile up.

There are few jetpacks in the world, and experts have said they are dubious the sightings are really of a man flying around the L.A. Basin. For one thing, the altitude reported by the pilots would be difficult to maintain with the fuel capacity of a jetpack.

Several suggested a more likely scenario: an electric drone — perhaps with a mannequin attached.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.