LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — It wasn’t a bird, and it wasn’t another plane.
Officials say airline crews making their final approach to Los Angeles International Airport spotted a man flying in a jet pack this weekend.
An FAA spokesperson says the incident was reported by crews on Southwest Airlines and American Airlines flights who say they saw “what appeared to be someone in a jet pack” around 6:35 p.m. Sunday near the airport.
No injuries or damage was reported.
Audio transcripts from LiveATC.net show the pilots were warned to be on the lookout for someone in a jet pack flying at about 3,000 feet:
Pilot: “Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jet pack”
Tower: “American 1997, OK, thank you, were they to your left side or right side?”
Pilot: “Off the left side at ah maybe 300-ah-300 yards or so, about our altitude”
Tower: “OK American 1997”
Tower: “Southwest 6046”
Southwest Pilot: “Tower, we just saw the guy pass by us”
Tower: “JetBlue 23 please caution a person with a jet pack reported 300 yards south of the LA final at about 3000 feet”
Pilot: “JetBlue 23 we heard and are definitely looking”
Tower: “Only in LA”
United Airlines Captain Jose Moreno said he was not flying in the area that night, but he heard about the reports. He warned that the person flying the jet pack could have caused a major catastrophe.
“If that guy on a jet pack is flying around in [restricted airspace], he’s endangering other people,” Moreno said. “God forbid if he gets sucked in by one of the engines if he gets close enough.”
Moreno, who has been flying commercially for over 30 years, said the jet pack wouldn’t get picked up by the control tower’s radar because it is too small. However, he noted that pilots are trained to try to out maneuver threats like this.
David Mayman, CEO of Los Angeles-based Jetpacking Aviation, said he believes that the pilots most likely saw a drone.
“The likelihood of a real turbine-powered jet pack taking off from the L.A. area, getting up to 3,000 feet, maneuvering long enough to be sighted by two airliners and then coming back down and landing — it’s very, very low,” he said. “The other thing is that they’re pretty noisy so we haven’t had, as far I know yet, any reports of people on the ground or any cell phone footage from people on the ground seeing this thing take off and land, which is weird.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was not aware of something like this ever happening before and said it had alerted local law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.