Jet Pack Sighted 3K Feet Over LA

2 pilots reported seeing man flying one
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2020 2:10 AM CDT
Updated Sep 2, 2020 6:57 AM CDT
Jet Pack Sighted 3K Feet Over LA
   (Getty Images / choness)

"We just passed a guy in a jet pack." Those were the words from an American Airlines pilot approaching Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday night, and they have prompted an investigation. Another pilot also reported seeing a man in a jet pack at 3,000 feet; the first pilot said he was just 300 yards to the plane's left. The FBI and the FAA are probing the incident, the New York Times reports. In what is perhaps the most unsurprising observation of the week, one expert notes it's "very dangerous" to fly that close to a plane, not to mention illegal without FAA approval. He notes that among the many risks, the person could get "ingested" into the engine. The same expert says he does not think it's likely the pilots were mistaken, and a second expert echoes that to CBS LA, noting pilots are trained to spot a situation exactly like this.

However, jet packs have so far only been able to make short flights, and not that many companies make them. One Jetman Dubai pilot flew almost 6,000 feet into the air using a jet pack earlier this year, but the flight only lasted three minutes. A company near LA does, in fact, sell a jet pack that can get 15,000 feet high and fly for 10 minutes, but it does not sell them for recreational use. Its founder says he would guess the pilots actually spotted a drone: "The likelihood of a real turbine-powered jet pack taking off from the LA area, getting up to 3,000 feet, maneuvering long enough to be sighted by two airliners and then coming back down and landing—it’s very, very low," he said. "The other thing is that they’re pretty noisy so we haven’t had, as far I know yet, any reports of people on the ground or any cell phone footage from people on the ground seeing this thing take off and land, which is weird." (More strange stuff stories.)

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