The FBI is now involved in the investigation into reports that two airline crew members spotted “guy in a jetpack” as they approached Los Angeles International Airport at 3,000 feet on Sunday night .
No explanation has been found for the mysterious sighting that shocked the pilots and the control tower, but left some experts skeptical.
David Mayman, CEO of Jetpack Aviation, told CBS he thought it was more likely a large drone despite the certainty of witnesses.
The Los Angeles-based company is working alongside the US military on the development of a jetpack, but has denied that any of their planes were involved.
The FBI has confirmed they are investigating reports that two airline crew members spotted “a guy in a jetpack” as they approached Los Angeles International Airport at 3,000 feet on Sunday night.
“It’s very, very unlikely with the existing technology,” Mayman said.
“I am open to surprise. But I don’t think anyone is working on a technology that can fly off the ground at 3,000 feet and then come back down.
“They were running out of fuel, they were consuming fuel too quickly,” continued Mayman. “If it’s a real jetpack, it’s noisy. People would have heard it take off and land.
While Mayman speculated that it could have been a drone, he added that 3,000 feet was also on the high end of what most drones were capable of.
Myman told CBS his company was under contract with the military to research and develop jetpack technology, but their planes are not for sale.
He thinks that if pilots have seen a jetpack, it’s probably “whoever flew it probably built it himself.”
Jetpack Aviation, located in the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles, is now on its second research and development contract with the military, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He started his first contract in 2016, but claims not to have sold any devices, despite having worked on a prototype. They had also trained at least one Navy Seal on the platform.
In 2019, Jetpack Aviation expected to have an individual lifter, or ILD, ready as a prototype for testing by the US Special Operations Command (USSOC) by this summer.
David Mayman, CEO of Jetpack Aviation, says current technology would make Sunday jetpack viewing nearly impossible. Pictured, ‘Jetpack Man’ flies during the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championships in Cannes
The company told Stars & Stripes that it was the “first and only company” to develop jetpack technology for USSOC.
“The possible uses of this technology are still being evaluated. USSOCOM does not discuss specific details or potential applications of these technologies, ”they said.
“We’re working with their operators, with their team members, on exactly what our jetpacks would need to be useful in a real mission: endurance, height, speed, payload, that sort of thing.
The second contract is now to develop a Speeder aircraft that looks more like a motorcycle.
It can be flown by one person or used as a drone and has been described by the company as the “world’s first flying motorcycle” with a mission to “save lives”.
According to their website, the Speeder is jet-powered and can take off and land anywhere.
“This is by far the fastest way to get a person or cargo across town, especially in or out of a high stakes environment, be it military, emergency or disaster.” , they say.
The company believes it could be used to get a paramedic to their patient faster, move patients to hospitals faster, evacuate injured personnel from the battlefield, or move equipment or cargo to where they would be. inefficient or too risky to operate a helicopter.
Jetpack Aviation is developing the Speeder, pictured above. It has been described by the company as the “world’s first flying motorcycle” with the mission of “saving lives”
He adds that the plane is expected to have an operational ceiling of 15,000 feet, a top speed of 150 mph, and can last between 20 and 30 minutes.
A scale prototype of the Speeder is currently being tested.
Jetpack Aviation claims to be the first to also develop a jetpack that can function as a backpack.
They have five of them and Mayman himself showed what they can do by flying one around the Statue of Liberty five years ago.
He confirmed to the LA Times that none of them were involved in Sunday’s incident and that the company is not selling them.
They offer classes for $ 4,950, but the students are tied to a thread and can’t travel far, and if they were to sell, it wouldn’t be for less than $ 300,000.
Mayman says its competitors are also not putting their planes on the market.
For him, selling a jetpack remains too risky unless it is to the government or government agencies.
“It’s so easy for someone to misuse one of these planes,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI said Tuesday they were investigating the jetpack reports at LAX last weekend.
“Two airline flight crews reported seeing what appeared to be someone in a jetpack as they were on their final approaches to LAX at around 6:35 pm PDT on Sunday,” the FAA said.
The statement has not been developed.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller also told the Los Angeles Times that airport officers were investigating after the pilot reported the incident to the control tower.
“The FBI is aware of the pilot reports on Sunday and is working to determine what happened,” the agency said in a statement.
Fox 11 Los Angeles obtained recordings of communications between the aircraft and the tower.
“Tower, American 1997, we just ran into a guy in a jetpack,” said one pilot.
“American 1997, OK, thank you, were they to your left or to your right?” asked the controller.
“On the left side about 300 meters at our altitude,” said the pilot.
LAX, pictured, is one of the busiest airspaces in the country and if it turns out that someone has flown a jetpack in the area, it could result in a fine of $ 1,100 to $ 27,500
Another pilot also reported a sighting.
“We just saw the guy walk past us in the jetpack,” he said.
The controller then advised another flight crew to exercise caution.
“A person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the Los Angeles final at about 3,000 feet, a 10 mile final,” said the controller.
Depending on the exact location of the jetpack and if the reports are confirmed, the pilot could face a hefty fine for the stunt.
Business Insider reports that the FAA considers jetpacks to be “ultralight” planes, meaning they are prohibited from flying “over any congested area of a city, town or colony, or any outdoor gathering of people “such as LAX airspace.
This could result in a fine of $ 1,100 to $ 27,500.
Flying at this altitude with a jetpack is not typical, according to Fox 11, and would certainly not be able to fly for a long time.
“Even the most technologically advanced jetpacks can only fly very briefly, so there’s a possibility that this person got on and got off and gone,” aviation safety expert Steve Cowell told the station. .
According to The Verge, a jetpack reached over 3,000 feet in Dubai last February. Pilot Vince Reffet using a jet carbon fiber suit to lift off the ground and fly 6,000 feet in the air.
However, he needed a parachute to get back to the ground and none were spotted on Sunday.