Forget drones. ‘Guy in a jetpack’ spotted by pilots near LAX

As if airline pilots didn’t have enough to worry about with drones flying close by, there are now reports of someone in a jetpack taking to the sky near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Two sightings by pilots in separate aircraft took place on Sunday, August 30, and the FBI is now investigating.

According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), two flight crews “reported seeing what appeared to be someone in a jetpack as they were on their final approaches to LAX around 6:35 p.m. PT Sunday.”

A transcript published by the Los Angeles Times reveals the exchange that took place between an American Airlines pilot and the control tower at LAX as the airplane prepared to land.

Pilot: “Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack.”

Controller: “American 1997, OK, thank you, were they off to your left side or your right side?”

Pilot: “Off the left side at maybe 300 yards or so at our altitude,”

A pilot on another aircraft also reported seeing someone in a jetpack.

“We just saw the guy pass by us in the jetpack,” he told the controller.

Advising pilots on another nearby aircraft to proceed with caution, the controller said, “Person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final at about 3,000ft, 10-mile final.”

The FBI later confirmed that it was aware of the reported incidents and was now conducting an investigation to find out exactly what happened.

Ross Aimer, a retired pilot and the CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, told FOX 11 Los Angeles: “Whoever was operating — if it is a jetpack — this was a crazy place to be.”

A drone getting sucked into an aircraft engine sounds dangerous enough, but a jetpack could cause an even bigger problem, not least for the person flying it.

Once the stuff of science fiction, jetpacks of various designs are now advanced enough to fly vast distances — just check out what French daredevil Franky Zapata achieved with his “flyboard” design last summer. And then there’s Richard Browning who recently hurtled into the record books for achieving the fastest speed (85 mph) in a body-controlled, jet engine-powered suit.

Digital Trends has reached out to the FAA for more information on Sunday’s bizarre incident and we will update this piece when we hear back.

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