The mysterious figure known as the “jetpack man” was spotted again over Los Angeles.
A pilot spotted a flying object that resembled a person wearing a jetpack on Wednesday evening near Los Angeles International Airport, where at least four “jetpack” sightings have been reported in the last year, CBS News reports. Upon the pilot’s sighting, air traffic control warned other flights to watch out for what’s since been dubbed “the jetpack man.”
“A Boeing 747 pilot reported seeing an object that might have resembled a jetpack 15 miles east of LAX at 5,000 feet altitude,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, air traffic controllers alerted other pilots in the vicinity.”
In recordings obtained by CBS Los Angeles, the figure was described as a “UFO” and “Iron Man.”
“Skywest 3626, use caution. The jet man is back, let me know if you see him,” air traffic control said. “Skywest 3626, did you see the UFO?”
“We were looking, but we did not see Iron Man,” the pilot responded.
The FBI investigated a string of “jetpack” sightings in the Los Angeles area late last year. The “jetpack man” has become something of a local legend in Southern California after multiple reports of the flying object around LAX.
In August 2020, an American Airlines pilot reported seeing a “guy in a jetpack” at 3,000 feet during his descent to LAX, and that October, a crew on a China Airlines flight reported another unidentified flying object at 6,000 feet as the plane approached the airport. The American Airlines pilot spotted the figure only 300 yards to his left.
In December of that same year, a local flight school posted footage of what appeared to be a person zipping around the Palos Verdes Peninsula using a jetpack, which is just south of LAX.
It’s unclear whether the sightings are related.
While there are a handful of jetpack manufacturers worldwide, few are for sale. It’s also unlikely that a jetpack tank could have enough fuel to reach more than a mile of altitude like the object spotted by the China Airlines crew did. JetPack Aviation, a company based in Chatsworth, California, created jetpacks that are technically capable of reaching 15,000 feet, but Chief Executive David Mayman told the Los Angeles Times that the packs can only really reach around 1,000 to 1,500 feet safely because of fuel constraints.
“To fly up to 6,000 feet from the ground, to fly around long enough to be seen by China Airlines and then to descend again, you’d be out of fuel,” Mayman said.
It’s not entirely out of the question, though. In February 2020, the aviation company Jetman Dubai announced that pilot Vince Reffet reached 6,000 feet of altitude operating one of its winged jetpacks, before deploying his parachute and safely landing. Reffet died in a training accident nine months later.
One widely accepted theory is that the “jetpack man” haunting LA skies is just a mannequin strapped to a drone. Recreational drone users aren’t allowed to fly above 400 feet, over groups of people, over restricted airspace, and especially near other aircraft.
The air traffic controller reporting the August jetpack man sighting put it best: “Only in LA.”