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‘Possible jetpack man in sight,’ LAX air traffic control reports

An airplane taxis past a gate at LAX
An airplane taxis past a gate at Los Angeles International Airport in May.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Another possible sighting of an airborne person with a jetpack was reported near Los Angeles International Airport, and the FBI is investigating.

Around 6:12 p.m. Wednesday, a Boeing 747 pilot radioed to report “a possible jetpack man in sight,” according to a recording from the website LiveATC.

The pilot spotted an object that might have resembled a jetpack 15 miles east of LAX at 5,000 feet altitude, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said. “Out of an abundance of caution, air traffic controllers alerted other pilots in the vicinity.”

“Use caution, the jetpack guy is back,” said one air traffic alert.

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Another said, “Use caution, there was a report of a man in a jetpack around 5,000 in the vicinity of Los Angeles.”

At one point, an air traffic controller asked a pilot, “Did you see a UFO?”

“We were looking but we did not see Iron Man,” the pilot responded.

The FBI will work with the FAA to investigate the jetpack report, FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said in an email.

In December 2020, a video purporting to show a person flying with a jetpack was captured on an instructional flight out of Torrance airport.

At that point, the FBI was already investigating two possible jetpack sightings near LAX from August and October of that year.

The August sighting was called in by two commercial pilots, one from American Airlines and another from JetBlue minutes later.

Experts knowledgable about jetpacks have expressed some skepticism about the reports.

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Jetpacks are extremely expensive and difficult to obtain. The altitudes reported by the pilots would be hard to maintain with a jetpack’s fuel capacity.

It’s possible the pilots misidentified balloons or drones, experts said.

“We’ve worked with the FAA on each of the past sightings, and thus far, we have not been able to validate any of the reports,” Eimiller said.


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