Of the myriad mysteries that 2020 has delivered, few have piqued our curiosity like the bizarre case of Los Angeles’s enigmatic jetpack man—first spotted in August flying 3,000 feet over the busy airspace above LAX, then again in October gliding 6,000 feet high, this time a few miles northwest of the airport.
Though pilots and airline crew members observed the daredevil in flight on both occasions, they failed to capture video of the strange sight, which surely would’ve aided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in their ongoing probes.
But now, we finally have visual proof of a guy in a jetpack—perhaps the guy in the jetpack—zipping around the Southern California skies.
On December 21, a pilot on an instructional flight with Sling Pilot Academy, based near Torrance, California, encountered and captured video of the unidentified flying object at approximately 3,000 feet in the vicinity of Palos Verdes and Catalina Island, south of L.A.
Here’s the clip, which Sling Pilot Academy posted to YouTube and Instagram:
In the caption that accompanied the video, Sling Pilot wrote:
The War Zone tracked down one of the pilots involved in the encounter, who reported that the object “passed along the right side of their aircraft and kept going until it was out of sight.” More from The War Zone:
The FAA later confirmed with The War Zone that it didn’t receive any reports from the pilots.
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While we await further information regarding this latest incident, the FAA and FBI are still investigating the reports from the sightings in August and October. As a refresher, on August 29, a pilot for American Airlines Flight 1997 spotted what he believed to be “a guy in a jetpack” just 300 yards to the left of his plane, which was soaring over the busy airspace above LAX at an altitude of about 3,000 feet.
Then, on October 14, the crew of the LAX-bound China Airline Flight 006, a Boeing 777 coming from Taipei, alerted air traffic controllers of the jetpack cruising nearby at an altitude of 6,000 feet. As the New York Times points out, that’s nearly six times the height of L.A.’s Wilshire Grand Tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Such a height, however, isn’t totally unprecedented for jetpacks; earlier this year, an Indian pilot almost reached an altitude of 6,000 feet in a short jetpack flight in Dubai.
We don’t know if the same “guy in a jetpack” is behind all three stunts, or if this even is a guy. The War Zone shared this video of a drone dressed up to look like a human operating a jet pack, for what it’s worth:
Meanwhile, in 2016, New Zealand’s Martin Aircraft Company unveiled a prototype device that could reach a maximum speed of 46 miles per hour and a flight ceiling of 3,000 feet. The apparatus isn’t a true jetpack, as it uses twin-ducted fans, and the wearer can’t put it on like a backpack—but it’s still an experimental flying device that could possibly propel a person up to the level of airplanes in the sky. Martin Aircraft shuttered in 2019, but if someone already had their hands on the technology, it could have been in the sky.
Here’s hoping that 2021 finally gives us the answers to the jetpack saga we truly deserve. (Among other things.)
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