L.A.'s Mystery 'Jetpack' Allegedly Captured on Video, But We Still Have Questions

Illustration for article titled L.A.s Mystery Jetpack Allegedly Captured on Video, But We Still Have Questions
Screenshot: YouTube/ Sling Pilot Academy

A pilot in Southern California has captured video of what appears to be a person flying a jetpack, the first visual evidence of an unexplained flying object that seems similar to a reported jetpack sighting near the Los Angeles airport in August. But we still have a lot of questions about what we’re seeing in the video and local authorities haven’t shared any answers.

The video, captured by a pilot for Sling Pilot Academy and uploaded to YouTube, is from December 21 and was captured at an altitude of roughly 3,000 feet near Palos Verdes, California. The island in the background is Catalina Island, according to Sling Pilot Academy.

An American Airlines pilot first reported a jetpack sighting near LAX in August but all we had was a transcript of the pilot’s conversation with air traffic control. This new video provides a look at what may have been the same type of aircraft, or could be something else entirely. We simply don’t know enough at this point and the video, as you can see below, is somewhat blurry.

“The video appears to show a jet pack, but it could also be a drone or some other object,” Sling Pilot Academy wrote on both YouTube and Instagram.

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“If it is a ‘guy in a jet pack’ then it remains to be seen whether it is a legal test flight (jetpacks are real - there is a manufacturer near Los Angeles) or related to the jet pack sightings near LAX recently that caused disruptions to air traffic.”

As the pilot school notes, jetpacks are real and have been in use since the 1960s, though primarily as a novelty act. The very first Super Bowl in 1967 had a jetpack demonstration. Disneyland in Anaheim, California featured a jetpack flight in 1966. And the U.S. military even briefly entertained the idea of using jetpacks during the Vietnam War.

The problem, both in the 1960s and today, has always been twofold: First, jetpacks require a tremendous amount of energy to blast a human off the ground, meaning that jetpack flights have historically been very short since it’s tough to carry much fuel into the air. Second, and perhaps most importantly, jetpacks are not safe for the average person to operate. People who are operating jetpacks in the early 21st century are doing so after a lot of testing and training.

George Jetson and Sunday comic strip illustrators of the 1960s promised that average Americans would one day get their very own jetpacks. Or, at the very least, there was the idea that people in specialized jobs like your friendly postal worker would have a jetpack. But if regular people are going to be operating jetpacks anytime soon, they’ll likely need to be highly automated just to make sure one wrong move doesn’t send the user plummeting back to Earth.

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There’s plenty of speculation that this jetpack experiment could be the work of the chronically online billionaire Elon Musk. But there’s no evidence yet that Musk has anything to do with this jetpack flight. If he does have something to do with an unlicensed aircraft, the FBI would very much like to talk with him.

And if you know what’s going on with this UFO near L.A. please don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Given the blurriness of the video, we’re inclined to think this “jetpack guy” is actually Bigfoot at this point.

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Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

fiveliters1
FiveLiters1

Side note: so we have all these iPhones and Galaxy phones with three and four cameras on them...and this is the kind of video that makes it’s way out?