There’s something in the air in Los Angeles and it’s more than a little odd.
For the second time in two months, commercial pilots have reported spotting someone flying high with the aid of a jetpack near Los Angeles airport.
The latest report came on Wednesday (local time), when a China Airlines crew said they had spotted someone in a jetpack flying at 1800 metres only 11 kilometres north-west of the busy airport.
Under local laws, no one is allowed to fly in the airspace near airports without authorisation from air traffic control. The laws cover those sporting jetpacks.
LA police is reportedly aware of the incident. But they were also a bit befuddled as the sighting occurred beyond their jurisdiction.
The US Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI are also investigating.
“The FBI is in contact with the FAA and is investigating multiple reports of what, according to witnesses, appeared to be an individual in a jetpack near LAX, including one today reported by a China Airlines crew. Anyone with information should contact the FBI,” the FBI said in a statement to local media.
Wednesday’s strange report follows a similar sighting of a rocket man on September 1.
On that day, pilots said they someone flying with a jetpack about 900 metres in the air as they approached the airport.
“Tower, American 1997. We just passed a guy in a jetpack,” a bewildered pilot radioed to air-traffic control.
The response was equally confused.
“Only in LA,” the controller said.
David Mayman, the chairman of Los Angeles company Jetpack Aviation, told the local CBS affiliate that it was unlikely to be people actually flying jetpacks.
“How is it that nobody saw them take off and land? That’s what I don’t understand,” he said. “These machines are pretty noisy.”
He also said getting to 1800 metres above the ground was unlikely: “We’d run out of fuel.”
Jetpacks have a notoriously short range, although one pilot claimed to have reached 1800 metres in altitude – flying at speeds of up to 240km/h – in an experiment in Dubai early in 2020.
But long-time United pilot Jose Moreno backed the air crews – and said such a stunt was extremely dangerous.
“I would say that’s a total disregard of safety because he’s actually flying in an area where there’s a lot of airliners,” he said.
Elsewhere, paramedics for the Great North Air Ambulance Service in Britain have begun testing a jetpack that will allow them to fly up mountains to save lives.