Airline pilots report ‘guy in a jetpack’ flying past them near LAX

Click to play video: 'Pilot sees man in jetpack while approaching LAX airport'
Pilot sees man in jetpack while approaching LAX airport
WATCH: LAX audio captured the moment when two pilots reported seeing a person in a jetpack near the airport – Sep 1, 2020

Have you seen Iron Man or the Rocketeer cruising around LAX lately?

If so, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Federal Aviation Administration would probably like to speak with you regarding their case of a mysterious man in a jetpack.

Police, FAA officials and airport staff are still scratching their heads after two flight crews reported seeing a person in a jetpack near the Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, where he was allegedly cruising past planes at an altitude of 3,000 feet.

Two pilots working for separate airlines reported seeing the jetpack-wearing man at 6:35 p.m. on Sunday, according to air traffic control audio streamed on the website The FAA confirmed the two reports to Fox 11 in Los Angeles on Monday.

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The first report came from a pilot on American Airlines flight 1997, which was approaching the airport on Sunday evening.

“Tower, American 1997. We just passed a guy in a jetpack,” the pilot reported.

“OK, thank you,” the air traffic controller replied. “Were they off to your left side or right side?”

“Off to the left side, maybe 300 yards or so, about our altitude,” the pilot said.

A SkyWest Airlines pilot chimed in to corroborate the claim a few seconds later.

“We just saw the guy passing by us in the jetpack,” he told the tower.

The air traffic controller can then be heard warning a JetBlue flight about the unexpected aerial visitor. “Use caution, person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final (approach) at about 3,000 feet, 10-mile final,” he said.

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“We heard and we are definitely looking,” the JetBlue pilot said, before adding: “Only in L.A.”

It might sound implausible, but some jetpacks have been known to reach such heights. The Martin jetpack, for example, can allegedly reach heights of up to 5,000 feet. A New Zealand-based company designed and tested the fan-powered “jet” pack in 2011, but their plan to sell the devices for more than US$100,000 never quite got off the ground.

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Most jetpack designs are safest to use over water. Some actually incorporate jets of water, while others use fans or jetboards to lift the pilot off the ground.

In this file photo, French pilot Franky Zapata flies his Flyboard jetpack during the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship on April 21, 2018 in Cannes. File/VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Aviation expert Steve Cowell told Fox 11 that such a flight is possible, though not for long periods of time.

“Even the most technologically advanced jetpacks can only fly very briefly,” he told the station. “This person may have gone up, and then come down, and then driven away.”

Former pilot Ross Aimer told Fox that if the reports are true, everyone involved is lucky that the individual did not get sucked into a jet engine.

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“If it is a jetpack, this was a crazy place to be,” he said.

No suspects have been identified and no one had come forward to claim responsibility for the stunt as of Tuesday afternoon. However, people were quick to recommend fictional suspects on social media.

“Tony Stark was unavailable for comment,” write Andrew Mayne tweeted.

“Damn pilot almost hit me,” tweeted actor Ned Luke, who played one of the main characters in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. Players can get a jetpack for his character in the game.

“C’mon, man,” one person tweeted at SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

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Others suggested it was a stunt for Season 2 of The Mandalorian, the Star Wars series on Disney Plus.

“Mando, is that you?” one person wrote.

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