Commercial pilots are used to sharing the sky with birds or, more recently, drones, but on Sunday two pilots reported a new sighting at 3,000 feet as they approached Los Angeles International Airport: a man flying in a pack jet plane.
“Tower, American 1997 – we just passed a guy in a jet pack,” the pilot of the 1997 American Airlines flight from Philadelphia told air traffic control at around 6:35 pm. Sunday. The exchange was captured and published by LiveATC.net, which shares live, archived recordings of air traffic control radio broadcasts.
“Were they to your left or to your right? asked the controller.
The pilot said the person was 300 meters to the left of the plane and about 30 seconds later another pilot said he also saw the man pass by. The controller, after asking the pilot of JetBlue Flight 23 to keep an eye out, added: “Only in L.A.”
Now let F.B.I. and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.
American Airlines refused to identify the pilot, reporting the claims to the F.A.A. A JetBlue official will not comment.
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Seth Young, a pilot and professor of aviation at Ohio State University, said it was “very dangerous” to fly so close to an airplane, especially in the crowded airspace near the International Airport. Los Angeles.
“The risk is obviously that of having a collision with this plane or of getting a drone, or the person being ingested in an engine,” said Dr. Young. “We also have these issues with birds flying in congested airspace.”
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As there has been an increase in the number of aerial vehicles, mainly drones, around airports in recent years, the F.A.A. it has published rules and restrictions on flights near airports, he added. Authorization from the F.A.A. it would be necessary to fly in such controlled airspace.
Could the pilots have been wrong?
Dr Young said they “wouldn’t question a pilot’s perception,” as they have excellent eyesight and are trained to spot small objects in the air.
Jet packs have long been portrayed as futuristic vehicles in comics or spy movies, but little progress has been made in making the technology safe and available for recreational or commercial use.
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The main problem is fuel consumption – most jet packs aren’t equipped to fly for more than a few minutes, preventing them from climbing very high. The devices are mainly popular with enthusiasts or used as tourist attractions for thrill seekers who want to experience a few minutes of aerial flight, usually over open fields or over water.
Glenn Martin, a New Zealand inventor, sought to develop a jet pack that was practical for commercial use and could reach higher altitudes. The device was named one of the best inventions of 2010 by Time, which reported that the jet pack could theoretically carry a person up to 8,000 feet and hold 30 minutes of fuel.
But when a New York Times reporter tried it on in 2008,
Mr Martin said his team had not raised the device more than six feet. He hypothesized that “if you can fly it at three feet, you can fly it at 3000”. Ten years later, the company seems to have disappeared.
This does not mean that others have stopped trying to fly at high altitudes in jet packs.
Earlier this year, a Jetman Dubai pilot flew nearly 6,000 feet using a jet pack. The flight lasted three minutes.
JetPack Aviation, based in the San Fernando
Valley area of Los Angeles, invented what it calls “the world’s only JetPack,” which can reach 15,000 feet above sea level and can be used for approximately 10 minutes. Its founder introduced the jet pack in 2015 with a flight around the Statue of Liberty.
But the company doesn’t sell the jet pack for recreational purposes,
requiring people to take a three-week course to learn how to use it and use it in a controlled space.
Regarding the Sunday sighting,
David Mayman, founder of JetPack Aviation, said: “Honestly, we don’t know who is working on a machine that would be stupid enough or reckless enough to do it.”