Pilots approaching Los Angeles International were in shock Sunday night. Several flight crews report flying past a man using a jetpack while approaching the airport. The FAA is investigating the incident and has brought the report to the attention of law enforcement agencies.
Confused air traffic controllers had to deal with reports of a jetpack that flew over Los Angeles on Sunday. Photo: Emirates
Every now and then, commercial aircraft report that they see objects as they approach an airport. Typically these can be balloons or worrying drones. Targeting a drone can shut down an airport, as Frankfurt Airport found out earlier this year. While drones and balloons can be seen from time to time, reports of jetpacks are incredibly rare. This can even be the first.
What happened in Los Angeles?
Reports of a man flying a jetpack near the approach route to Los Angeles International Airport were heard on the Los Angeles approach frequency on Sunday evening, as first reported by Fox News In LA.
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According to LiveATC.com records, the man with the jetpack was first spotted by pilots on American Airlines' 1997 flight. AA1997 is a daily flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles on an Airbus A321. The AA1997 pilot made the report at approximately 6:35 p.m. local time. He said,
"Tower, American 1997, we just passed a man in a jetpack"
Flight AA1997 reportedly hit the jetpack man over the South Gate neighborhood in LA. Photo: FlightRadar24.com
In a slightly confused tone, the controller responds for the final approach: "Okay … were you on your left or right?" American 1997 replies with the words: "On the left side at about 300 meters above sea level, our altitude".
According to FlightRadar24.com, the Airbus A321 was dropping over 3,000 feet above the South Gate neighborhood of Los Angeles at the time of American Airlines' call.
American's 1997 sighting of the jetpack wasn't the end of the story, however. Another unidentified pilot continues, "We just saw the guy in the jetpack walk past us." As a result of the second warning, the controller asked the pilot of JetBlue Flight 23 to be vigilant.
In 2015, Emirates performed a carefully choreographed stunt with the Dubai Jetman Duo. Photo: Emirates
Simple Flying reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration for comment on the incident. An FAA spokesman told us:
“Two airline flight crews reported seeing someone in a jetpack when they were on their way to LAX at around 6:35 pm. PDT Sunday. The FAA has brought the reports to the attention of local law enforcement agencies and is reviewing these reports. "
Previous jetpack flights
While this unexplained incident was definitely undesirable, jetpack advertisers have flown planes in formation before. In November 2015 the “Jetman Dubai Duo” flew to the UAE to fly alongside an Emirates Airbus A380. This flight had been planned carefully and in detail. Due to the wake turbulence generated by the Airbus A380, the duo had to ensure that it was not flying in certain regions around the giant of the sky.
What do you think of the jetpack man from Los Angeles? Let us know what you think in the comments!