The Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday it is investigating reports from airline pilots that someone was flying in a jetpack as they approached Los Angeles International Airport to land 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 around 6:35 pm PDT Sunday," the FAA said.
The statement did not elaborate.
Fox 11 Los Angeles obtained recordings of communications between the aircraft and the tower.
"Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack," a pilot said.
"American 1997, OK, thank you, were they off to your left side or your right side?" the controller asked.
"Off the left side at maybe 300 yards or so at our altitude," the pilot said.
Another pilot also reported a sighting.
"We just saw the guy pass by us in the jetpack," he said.
The controller then advised another aircraft flight crew to use caution.
"Person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final at about 914 meters, 16-kilometre final," the controller said.
Local station Fox 11 reported that the case was under investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
"The FBI is aware of the reports by pilots on Sunday and is working to determine what occurred," said a spokesperson for the Bureau.
It seems an unbelievable event, however the sighting happened during daylight hours with both pilots corroborating events. Coming within 300 metres of the aircraft, the flight crews were able to make out the object as a man in a "jetpack".
While the contraptions are unusual, they are not entirely confined to the realms of science fiction. Last year, French inventor and army reservist Franky Zapata crossed the English channel on a kerosene-powered pack and "jet platform".
However they are complicated and extremely expensive to run, with the French military having paid Zapata €1.3 million ($2.3 million) to for the prototype.
You'd have thought that someone with this level of disposable income and technology would have thought not to use it in the flight path of LAX.
A jetpack is far from the strangest sighting reported to Los Angeles air traffic control.
In 1982 Larry "lawn chair" Walters grounded aircraft coming into Los Angeles International Airport, after attaching 45 helium balloons to a deckchair and floating into controlled airspace. A low-tech but highly disruptive stunt which has gained many imitators.
Pilots preparing to land in Los Angeles must be prepared for anything.
- AP with additional staff reporting.