What’s that in the sky? A bird? A plane? No, it’s apparently a person wearing a jetpack buzzing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). This is the second such incident reported in the last several months, which seems awfully suspicious when jetpacks are only barely functional. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating both reports for fear whoever (or whatever) is up there could interfere with air traffic.
The latest incident report comes from a China Airlines flight, which claimed to spot a person wearing a jetpack at an altitude of 6,000 feet about seven miles (11 kilometers) north of LAX on Wednesday afternoon. The FAA didn’t say if the alleged jetpacker posed a danger to planes, but they would need to be very close to the aircraft to be visible. That certainly seems like a problem.
Skepticism is definitely still warranted, even with a second sighting. While jetpacks technically exist, they’re very different from what you’ve seen in the movies. A company called Jetpack Aviation will let you fly one of its custom packs for a mere $ 4,950. That gets you two days of training with at least three flights on each day. You’re not going to be soaring through the air, though — the company’s aircraft have a maximum of 10 minutes of endurance. Simply reaching 6,000 feet with such a contraption would be a challenge. Another company known as Martin Aircraft Co. made waves a few years ago claiming it would sell a $ 200,000 jetpack that was more of a wearable helicopter. However, the company closed down in 2019 without selling any (confirmed) units.
It was easy to dismiss the first sighting as a mistake or misidentification, but a second jetpack pilot in the same area suggests there’s something going on. Whether or not it’s actually a person with a jetpack is impossible to say, but it would be a truly death-defying feat if someone is rocketing through the sky near LA. That would require someone to have designed and built a previously unknown jetpack that vastly outperforms all previous designs, and that is pretty unlikely. A more plausible explanation would be a drone of some sort that maybe, from a certain angle, looks like a person.