Pilots Who Reported Seeing Jet Packs May Have Seen Jack Skellington Balloons

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by Jesus Merida/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A new report from the FBI and FAA says that the ‘jet pack man’ that pilots spotted rocketing above Los Angeles like Iron Man is from a different cinematic universe.

Since August 2020, at least three airline crews reported seeing a man flying above the city. But a new report from the FAA and FBI suggests that it may only be a human-sized Jack Skellington balloon, NBC 4 said. The crew of an LAPD helicopter snapped photos of what looks like the iconic Nightmare Before Christmas character hovering above the city two weeks after the second sighting.

“The FAA has worked closely with the FBI to investigate every reported jet pack sighting,” a statement to the news station said. “So far, none of these sightings have been verified. One working theory is that pilots might have seen balloons.”

Retired pilot and aviation consultant Ross Aimer told NBC 4 that he’s happier with the balloon theory.

“This thing now explains that [this] could be possibly what they saw,” retired pilot Ross Aimer said. “It’s a very good possibility that the previous ones were also balloons and pilots mistook a jet pack. This is a better explanation to me and hopefully the aviation community.”

Reports of “Jet Pack Man” Became Obsession Last Year

An American Airlines pilot first reported what he believed to be a man flying through the air on August 30 of last year.

“Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jet pack … off the left side [of the plane], maybe 300 yards or so, about our altitude,” the pilot told air traffic control, Newsweek reported at the time. Air traffic controllers alerted other planes in the area “out of an abundance of caution,” the FAA said.

A China Airlines crew spotted a similar flying man months later. And on July 28, a 747 pilot reported seeing him flying at 6,000 feet.

“Skywest 3626, use caution. The jet man is back, let me know if you see him,” an air traffic controller said, the Associated Press reported.

“We were looking, but we did not see Iron Man,” a pilot responded.

The aviation world became obsessed with solving this mystery after the first reported sighting. Though no one ever came forward to verify any of these incidents, it didn’t tamp down theories.

In December, a pilot captured amateur video of what they claimed was a man on a jetpack not far from Los Angeles. ABC 7 said the pilot filmed the “daredevil” as they flew around at more than 3,000 feet.

While there isn’t a real-life Iron Man taking flight above the Hollywood Hills, pilots reported to the FAA a record number of drone sightings over the past year. These drones pose a serious threat to pilots and planes, and flying one near an airport or any aircraft is a federal crime.