Something strange is going on around the Los Angeles International Airport in recent weeks. On Wednesday, a flight crew for China Airlines reported seeing a person flying around LAX wearing what appeared to be a jetpack. It was the second sighting in the past two months and so far, authorities seem to be stumped for answers.
A spokesperson for the FAA said in an email, “a China Airlines crew reported seeing what appeared to be someone in a jet pack at an approximate altitude of 1,828.80 m, about seven miles northwest of Los Angeles International Airport around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday.” The spokesperson said that local law enforcement was contacted and is investigating.
That would be strange on its own, but virtually the same scenario played out on Aug. 30 when the crews of multiple airlines informed the control tower that they’d seen someone flying with a jetpack at around 914.40 m. In that case, an American Airlines crew said the person was just 274.32 m from the wing of their aircraft.
The Drive obtained audio between the China Air team and air traffic control discussing the latest incident. Here’s how it starts:
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 21 km ahead.”
Two other flights in the area confirmed the sighting as well.
A spokesperson for the FBI told the New York Times that agents are “investigating multiple reports of what, according to witnesses, appeared to be an individual in a jetpack near LAX.” The agency has reportedly already been investigating the August incident.
If all the details prove to be true, it’s easy to assume that this could be an amateur foolhardily testing out their homemade jetpack. But it would be quite impressive if that’s the case. In February, a pilot in Dubai wore a jet suit and set what was believed to be an altitude record close to 1,828.80 m. That pilot was only in the air for 3 minutes, conducted 50 test flights as preparation, and used a parachute for the landing.
It’s unclear how long the alleged jetpack adventurer in the L.A. area remained in the air, but a parachute surely would’ve made it easier to spot where they landed.