A mysterious “jet-pack man” flying over South California has reportedly been spotted by at least four pilots on four separate occasions since August this year. US federal agencies, including the FBI, are believed to have launched a probe into these incidents.
One of the pilots reportedly spotted the “jet-pack man” on his usual practice routes. He was quoted as saying by media that he had noticed the man flying towards him from the opposite direction while being roughly 3,000 feet up in the air.
The man passed the aircraft and went on his way in the skies over the Los Angeles International Airport, also called LAX.
What Is A Jet Pack?
A jet pack or a rocket pack is a device worn on the back which propels the wearer through the air using jets of gas or liquid. The concept of jet packs has been present in science fiction for almost a century, mainly in comics, movies, and television series.
While a variety of mechanisms have been used to develop real jet packs, their usage is limited to fictional circumstances only primarily because the jet itself could pose a threat to other fliers or pilots. Another reason cited by experts is that the human body is not very “aerodynamic, so controlling such a device at any speed is tricky”.
JetPack Aviation Corp, a company based in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, has come out with wearable jet packs. However, it has stopped selling the products, apparently due to the dangers involved in flying with them. According to the LA Times, the company offers flying lessons at $4,950 a pop, but students are attached to a wire to ensure they can’t stray too far.
However, one practical use of the jet pack has been seen in extra-vehicular activities for astronauts due to the apparent weightlessness and lack of friction-creating atmosphere in space.
In August this year, three different pilots— one flying American Airlines Flight 1997, one operating Sky West, and one flying Jet Blue Flight 23— reported to Air Traffic Control (ATC) that they saw a man flying using a jetpack at a height of 3,000 feet within the airport’s 10-mile final approach area.
Just a week back on December 21, the “jet-pack man” was spotted again flying at the same altitude by a pilot on board an aircraft during an instruction flight. The plane was flying over the strait between Palos Verdes, California and Catalina Island when the man was spotted again.
A video has been released by the Sling Pilot Academy, in which the man can be seen passing the aircraft from the left. The video was uploaded on Instagram, with its caption stating, “Video taken by Sling Pilot Academy Flight Instructor while flying at approx. 3,000’ near Palos Verdes south of Los Angeles. Catalina Island is in the background. The video appears to show a jet pack, but it could also be a drone or some other object.”
“If it is a ‘guy in a jet pack’ then it remains to be seen whether it is a legal test flight (jet packs are real – there is a manufacturer near Los Angeles) or related to the jet pack sightings near LAX recently that caused disruptions to air traffic,” the post said.
During the flight, there seems to be radio communication between the aircraft and the “jet-pack man”, following which the incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US’ civil aviation regulator.
There were reports that the FAA as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are now probing the incident and the mysterious phenomenon of the “jet-pack man”.
Is It A technological Breakthrough?
According to aviation experts, jet packs normally have very short ranges and are not designed to fly as high as 3,000 feet in the air. And, if the said incidents can be proved and the man is traced, the jet pack’s technology could prove to be revolutionary.
However, while it remains an exciting prospect, things can easily turn dangerous, as a flight at such altitudes could result in the jet-pack man getting sucked into a jet’s engine, leading to a massive accident.