“A Guy In A Jet Pack” Reported Flying Next To Aircraft Near LAX

In case you needed more confirmation that we’re living in the future, a flight on approach to Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday night reported “a guy in a jet pack” flying within about 300 yards of them. A second pilot confirmed the sighting. It’s worth watching the video after the break just to hear the recordings of the conversation between air traffic control and the pilots.

The sighting was reported at about 3,000 feet which is an incredible height for any of the jet packs powerful enough to carry humans we’ve seen. The current state of the art limits jet pack tech to very short flight times and it’s hard to image doing anything more than getting to that altitude and back to the ground safely. Without further evidence it’s impossible to say, which has been an ongoing problem with sightings of unidentified flying objects near airports.

While superheros (or idiots pretending to be superheros) flying at altitude over the skies of LA sounds far fetched, the RC super hero hack we saw nine years ago now comes to mind. At 300 yards, that human-shaped drone might pass for an actual person rather than a dummy. This is of course pure speculation and we don’t want to give the responsible members for the RC aircraft community a bad name. It could have just as easily been trash, balloons, aliens, or Mothra. Or perhaps the pilot was correct and it was “some guy” flying past at 3,000 feet. That’s not impossible.

We anxiously await the results of the FAA’s investigation on this one.

[via HN and TheDrive]

63 thoughts on ““A Guy In A Jet Pack” Reported Flying Next To Aircraft Near LAX

    1. That’s not a bad thought.

      Foamboard cutout to make the shape of a person with a jetpack, a few hundred feet of fishing line, and a high-end consumer-grade quadcopter painted drab grey and hovering high enough above the foam person to be hard to notice.

    1. “a commercial pilot seems like an exceptionally reliable source”

      They are exceptionally reliable pilots, but,in cases like this, they really have not proven to be very reliable. Judging distance and altitude is notoriously difficult. I certainly believe that teh pilot reported what he saw. I withhold judgement as to whether what he saw matched the actual situation.

      Past episodes, in particular with drone reports, have much more often turned out to be incorrect than correct. This is a plausible incident, but I would put it it the deeply unverified and very questionable box.

    2. >a commercial pilot seems like an exceptionally reliable source

      This is a bad call. Pilots are human, and they are susceptible to the same failures as any other human. Pilots have mistaken geese for planes, planes for planets, and planets for aliens. There are a hundred different things they could have mistaken for a guy in a jetpack.

    3. Yeah, saying a commercial pilot is a reliable source is just an assumption on your part basically. Pilots can be weirdos. Pilots are actually very often weirdos. Source: my crazy dad who was a pilot

      1. Sure it is. But it’s an assumption that someone who’s spent many hours training to observe their surroundings carefully in the air is doing so. This pilot is a professional and he’s reporting what he saw through a professional channel, not one that should get him any attention.

        Obviously everyone is human and subject to all the foibles that entails. But on the spectrum of credible to wacko, a report from two independent, highly trained professionals over the radio to air traffic control tilts toward credible for me.

        1. The second pilot will have heard the communication of the first pilot to the tower, and will be “primed” to see a guy in a jetpack. It could still be a novelty balloon, a kite, a bunch of plastic bags lifted by the wind, or even a guy in a jetpack. But once you expect to see something is very hard not to spot it in anything you actually see.

  1. Welcome to Hackaday. Please read the tip line submission guidelines and then compare to the posts that show up.

    A suggestion is to separate this stuff to a different thread (like here’s whats happening etc, wassup). The stuff that trickled down from the submissions would not be lost in page 3, 5 and 7 etc. And I think some people like me wouldn’t be triggered.

    1. I agree! This is getting annoying. I don’t expect to read some vague article on some and then see it here a day later. Why is HAD stooping to this level of regurgitating news? This is supposed to be a site featuring peoples projects.

  2. Combine excess resources and a lack of personal responsibility and this is the type of things that result. Hold on, let me check Casey Neistat’s YouTube channel… I would almost expect something like this from him. Think of the views… THE VIEWS!!!

  3. A latex sex doll full of helium + some clothes + fake jetpack + a drone…

    Or just go with latex sex doll full of helium painted to look clothed and hope no one will look too closely…

  4. I have a PPL with an instrument rating. I have seen some weird stuff the past several years to include small balloons launched directly into the approach path of active runways, RCs and commercial UAVs flying into controlled airspace without clearance (I have two videos), model rocket launches from a small GA airport during normal operating hours, kids racing motorcycles in front of me on the runway while I turn into final, and other stuff. Left to themselves, humans seldom do the ‘right’ thing, are very tribal, tend to not think about consequences of their actions, and typically do not care about society. Humans under 25 tend to be worse and should generally be considered an ‘avoidable hazard’ (there are many remarkable exceptions). A young human with easy-to-implement technology? What could possibly go wrong? Thanks, arduino, et al.

    This article takes the pilot’s word as reliable. The public’s personification of controllers and commercial pilots as heros and infallible ‘experts’ is no longer valid. I have stopped filling reports with the AOV (backed up by voice and ADS-B files). Commercial pilots that have entered the system in the last 15 years have much less hi-performance experience, have recieved less rigorous training, have less discipline in their thinking, are too dependent on the computational and visual power of modern avionics, and have less procedural knowledge (both statute and administrative) that was typical of the ATP of years past. GA pilots, even with having aircraft that are more reliable and easier to fly, are much worse than commercial pilots. Without further investigation, there is little reason to assume that there is some nut-case flying around in a jet-pack, regardless of what these pilots said.

    This diatribe concludes my negative posting for today.

    1. But, if there *is* a nutcase flying around the end of an active runway in a jetpack, California would be the logical place for it to happen. Florida would be a close runner-up, but there’s more disposable income in CA.

    2. > kids racing motorcycles in front of me on the runway while I turn into final
      When I was 13 & 14, even then I new better. I had a radio so the tower could tell me when to get off the active.
      But then, it was a military base, and sometimes they make their own rules.

  5. The article implies it’s unlikely a jetpack could fly to 3000 feet and that they have very short flight times, yet the Zapata Flyboard is claimed to reach 10k feet. Last year Franky Zapata flew his Flyboard 21 miles across the English Channel in 25 minutes (albeit he had to swap backpacks halfway through). I’m still surprised that most people haven’t heard about this.

  6. So, you have a jet pack. You are bored with it because you do not get high off the ground. So, you buy a weather balloon. Take it up as high as you can stand with an oxygen pack on your back, and have fun coming back down.

  7. Fox News is not a credible source. So, I do not believe this at all.

    Stop and think about it, you are in a plane at altitude, and you see a guy with a jetpack outside your window.
    What is the FIRST thing you are going to do?

    Pull out your cell phone and record it.

    No one on the planes (they do talk about 2) thought to pull out their phone and record it?

    Odds are it is a publicity stunt. Like, getting LAX in the news, or for some movie yet to come out.

    1. Given the speed of a commercial airliner relative to the maximum potential speed of somebody in a jetpack, drone or skydiver the passengers would have only a fraction of a second to see it, take out their phone and start recording.

      The pilot has the luxury of forward-facing windows and could see the person at a distance.

  8. Do a youtube search for “Jetman” and watch Yves Rossy fly his jet pack. I have seen him fly at Oshkosh Air Venture airshow. Maybe someone in LA built a copy of his jet pack. Only a total idiot or terrorist would fly one in LAX airspace.

  9. Maybe we need to start fitting dash cams to aircraft.

    They’ve already got outside cameras on most commercial flights I’ve been on, why not feed that into a DVR system for constant recording?

    1. There are some already. Except that a “DVR system” in a plane is a multi million dollars tool (I know, we’ve built one for Airbus A380) that companies are only accepting to install if there is a ROI or a law to force them to. Observing interior of a plane for black box terrorist attack review makes sense. Observing hours of clouds outside does not make any economical sense.

  10. Clearly the next step here is for the FAA to immediately regulate and licence all Jetpack pilots and limit them to 400 feet of class G airspace and work with the JetPack manufacturers to GPS limit and track all flights not adhering to these rules.🙄 /sarcasm

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