Peak 2020: Pilots reportedly saw someone flying in a jetpack on final approach to LAX

Sep 3, 2020

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Could this be the strangest aviation story of the year?

On Sunday, 30 August, two jets were approaching Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to land. As they descended through 3,000 feet, pilots from both airliners reported seeing someone flying in a jetpack nearby. (Yes, you read that right: a jetpack.)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a short statement: “Two airline 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. PDT Sunday”. The FAA didn’t have more to say, but they’re investigating. Perhaps they too are perplexed.

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The first flight, American Airlines 1997 from Philadelphia, radioed that “tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack”, The Associated Press reports. Another pilot later the same afternoon reportedly said the same thing. He told the tower “We just saw the guy pass by us in the jetpack”.

At this point, the LAX control tower probably also was shocked — and perhaps a bit dubious. But the rouge jetpack was reportedly just 300 yards from the jets, which is most definitely a safety concern.

So the controller warned a third flight, JetBlue Flight 23 from New York, getting ready to land, “person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final at about 3,000 feet, 10-mile (16-kilometre) final”.

Fortunately, all planes landed without incident. But who was the “person in the jetpack?”

Three days later, and we still don’t have any details. In addition to the FAA, the FBI is also investigating the incident, according to L.A.’s FOX 11.

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Without video recording, we may likely never know what exactly these pilots saw. But it’s 2020. Anything could fly.

The chances it was a person in a jetpack are slim, according to the CEO of the Los Angeles-based company Jetpack Aviation. In a statement to the AP, David Mayman said “it’s very, very unlikely with the existing technology”.

If it wasn’t a jetpack, it might’ve been a drone.

And if it wasn’t a drone, maybe it was one of those massive helium balloons that escaped from a party at sea level. Or a big bird?

The way 2020 has gone, anything is possible. We may never know what exactly happened. But if it was a person with a jetpack, perhaps they were trying to make it to another galaxy far away. One without a pandemic, hopefully.

Featured photo by kevinjeon00/Getty Images

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