LAX Airliners In Close Call With … Jet Pack Pilot? Who Was It?
A pair of airliners landing at Los Angeles International Airport the other day reported to ATC that they had been shadowed by a guy flying in a jet pack. True story! One pilot of an American Airlines airliner said the jet pack guy came within 300 yards, which, when you think about it, he would have to have been… you wouldn’t even see the conflicting traffic had it been any farther away.
But when it comes to the jet pack guy, well, there are no two ways about it. It wasn’t a legal flight. First, the airspace in question was ground-to-10k feet controlled, no jet-packs-allowed, FAA-will-not-be-happy-with-you airspace. Secondly, while jet packs can be flown legally, mostly likely as Part 103 ultralights, they can’t be flown over densely populated areas and certainly not in Class B airspace.
The FBI is reportedly on the case, and one wonders if they’ll have an easy or a hard time finding their airspace violator. On the one hand, there just aren’t many jet packs out there, and the ones we know of were all safely tucked away at the time of the encounter. The LA Times story on the incident is well written and researched. The jet pack community seems at a loss to explain the sightings.
One possibility that hasn’t been brought up is the question of whether it was really a jet pack at all or just a drone or model airplane done up to look like a guy flying in a jet pack. Either way, if the feds find the violator, they will not be happy with them.