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Is someone really flying around LAX in a jet pack? Trying to solve an aviation mystery

By Richard Winton and Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Mayman said his company's jet packs are technically capable of soaring to heights of 15,000 feet. But because of fuel constraints, they can actually reach only about 1,000 or 1,500 feet off the ground safely.

"To fly up to 6,000 feet from the ground, to fly around long enough to be seen by China Airlines and then to descend again, you'd be out of fuel," he said.

Mayman said he knows it wasn't any of his company's jet packs because he knows exactly where they are - plus, they are disabled when not in use, so grabbing a pack out of storage wouldn't be possible.

Instead, he suggests a more likely scenario, an electric drone - perhaps with a mannequin attached.

Thomas Anthony, director of the University of Southern California Aviation Safety and Security Program and a former Federal Aviation Administration criminal investigator, said the strongest evidence that the LAX sightings is a person with a jet pack - as opposed to a balloon or drone - came from the American Airlines pilot, who reported seeing the object at 3,000 feet over Cudahy.

The pilot stated he saw "a guy in a jet pack" 300 yards to his left and flying at about the plane's altitude.


"That is quite close," Anthony said.

He said federal investigators would immediately look at the limited number of jet packs that exist in the U.S. and overseas.

"People in that community will know who has bought these packs," he said. "If someone is doing this, they are going to have to take off and land somewhere, and there is going to be noise."

Anthony said he doubts the culprit is using an airport to take off and that investigators should look to out-of-the-way industrial spots for clues. The FBI suggested the jet pack was flying in a section of Southeast Los Angeles County near Cudahy and Vernon that is dotted with commercial and manufacturing businesses.


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