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American Airlines pilots landing in Los Angeles spotted a 'guy in a jetpack' just 300 yards from their passenger jet

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/1/2020 tpallini@businessinsider.com (Thomas Pallini)
a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: American Airlines pilots on Sunday reported a "guy in a jetpack" flying near LAX. Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty © Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty American Airlines pilots on Sunday reported a "guy in a jetpack" flying near LAX. Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty
  • An American Airlines jet landing in Los Angeles had an encounter with a jetpack on Sunday while on approach to land at LAX, FOX 11 LA first reported.
  • Pilots reported seeing a "guy in a jetpack" hovering around 3,000 feet near the Runway 25L approach path around "300 yards" from their aircraft.
  • No major disruption was caused to inbound aircraft and the FAA told FOX 11 that it referred the case to the LAPD for investigation.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

American Airlines flight 1997 from Philadelphia to Los Angeles was nearing the end of an uneventful journey on Sunday when pilots reported seeing someone wearing a jetpack, flying roughly level to their aircraft and just a few hundred yards away. 

The Airbus A321 passenger jet was coming in to land at LAX when the pilots saw the rogue aeronaut, to the south of the approach path in LA's South Gate neighborhood, FOX 11 LA initially reported. 

"Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack," the American Airlines pilot told Los Angeles approach controllers when the aircraft was about 3,000 feet high, according to Live ATC recordings and Flightradar24 data. The pilot estimated the jetpacker was flying at roughly the plane's altitude, about 300 yards away. 


Video: Delta suspends flights at small airports in 11 U.S. cities (FOX News)

Air traffic controllers notified other inbound aircraft that they weren't alone in the skies. Multiple other pilots confirmed the report, including those on a JetBlue Airways flight from New York and a SkyWest Airlines flight from San Jose operating for Delta Air Lines.

"JetBlue 23, we heard and we are definitely looking," a JetBlue Airways pilot responded when notified of the aerial hazard. The American Airlines jet and other inbound flights landed without issue.

The Federal Aviation Administration told FOX 11 that the Los Angeles Police Department would be notified to investigate the incident but the department had not received the report at the time of FOX 11's story. Depending on where the jetpack was flying, the FAA might have grounds to pursue the pilot.

The FAA views jetpacks as "ultralight" aircraft and regulations restrict them from flying "over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons." The fine could range from $1,100 to $27,500 if the FAA's enforcement division finds the jetpack operator negligent. 

"Only in LA," an unidentified aircraft said after hearing the radio exchange. 

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