Once again, we are going to take a short trip into the Twilight Zone! The days when Sci-Fi only existed on Television. Well it seems things have changed a lot from then. Here is another moment when we are caught off our guard and wonder how the heck that happened?
While starting to descend into Los Angeles International Airport, 3 pilots (in 3 separate aircraft) saw something straight out of a Sci-Fi Movie! The captured recording said “Tower, American 1997 we just passed a guy in a jetpack”. In response, the controller said, ever so matter-of-fact, OK thank you. Was this to your right or left-hand side?" instead of something like "What in the hell… Are you on drugs?"
The pilot said the man was off to the left side of the plane. He was approximately 300 yards (274 meters) at our altitude. The second pilot on a different flight confirmed the sighting. The third pilot from Jet Blue reported they saw him again around 3,000 feet (900 meters) only yards from the runway. Imagine the three of them rubbing their eyes in total disbelief!!
As wild as it might seem, jetpacks have come a long way from the 60s with 20-second flights that flew at 4 feet (.1,2 meters). The maneuverability of these jetpacks and skills of the operators has improved enormously since the first flights of the Bell Rocker Belts which ended a few seconds after it began. The safety tether broke and the pilot fell 8 feet (2.5meters), crushing his knee cap.
I guess times have changed! Jetpacks flying at aircraft heights and pilots thinking the oxygen in the cabin must be off! Technology will never cease to amaze me and the world of Sci-Fi is much closer than any of us can possibly imagine!