Flights approaching the Los Angeles International Airport have been warned to keep an eye out for a man cruising around in a jetpack after a pilot report of a strange high-altitude sighting triggered an FBI probe.
An American Airlines pilot called into air traffic control with a highly unorthodox report over the weekend, saying he’d spotted a man flying in a jetpack some 3,000 feet over the airport as the plane descended for its landing. Tower tapes obtained by a local ABC affiliate captured the peculiar exchange with air controllers.
Pilot: “Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack.”
Tower: “Ok, thank you. Were they off to your left or right side?”
Pilot: “Off the left side, maybe 300 yards or so, about our altitude.”
While the man’s identity and intentions remain a mystery, the FBI has confirmed the incident, telling local media it is “aware of the reports by pilots” on Sunday and that it had launched a probe, but offered no other details. Local press reports also noted a second pilot observed the jetpacker, and that the Federal Aviation Authority had submitted a report to the Los Angeles Police Department for further investigation.
It’s unclear what type of device the man used, but according to one jetpack maker Martin Aircraft, its own craft can fly up to 46 miles per hour (74kph) and reach heights of some 3,000 feet (900m), suggesting the pilot’s report is well in the realm of possibility. The company says its packs are classified as aircraft, however, and that pilots require a license to operate one, as well as a radio system in order to communicate with air traffic control towers.
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