The lively debate over the existence of an actual “jetpack man” frequenting the airspace around Los Angeles took a turn for the real last week and now skeptics and believers alike have video to pore over. What’s more, the video was shot from the air by a pilot who’s not saying which side of the debate he or she is on. Sling Aviation Academy, of Torrance, released the video shot by one of its instructors while on a training flight with a student. It shows something that certainly looks like a person in a jetpack flying over Palos Verdes at about 3,000 feet.

“The video appears to show a jet pack, but it could also be a drone or some other object,” the flight school says in the description of the video. “If it is a ‘guy in a jet pack’ then it remains to be seen whether it is a legal test flight (jet packs 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.” A couple of airline crews reported seeing something that looked like a “guy in a jetpack” near LAX over the summer but the circumstances have tech-minded skeptics shooting down the notion. Any jetpacks that we know about fly close to the ground because their endurance is so short. The airline crew reports showed the object even higher than the Sling Aviation sighting so the prevailing naysaying commenters are putting their money on a conventional electric fan drone all dressed up as Ironman. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Just to state the obvious: Creating a flying craft that looks like a man in a jetpack is currently conceivable and could certainly be what was observed. But a man piloting a jetpack flying at 3000 feet and far offshore from the Palos Verdes peninsula as shown in the short period of the video is not even close to being practical.

  2. It’s a balloon.

    For less than $50, you can build a convincing looking “jetpack man” balloon that will fool Airline Pilots flying at 200MPH or Light Sport CFIs who can’t get close enough for a decent look or follow it till it lands (only about 5-10min tops till it runs out of gas if it really is a “guy in a jetpack”).

    Tip of The Hat to the builder. Look at all the attention his/hers/their creation is getting. All for a couple of hundred bucks and a few hours of work.


    • Exactly. Every time another one of these “sightings” shows up, it’s like chum on the water….the tin foil hat crowd is just waiting for it. Then the predictable avalanche of “maybe-s” and “could be-s” and “probably is a….” nonsense emanates, without even any pretense of common sense. Pathetic.

      I commented on the original video story that silliness like this “video” is trivially easy to create with any decent video editor. I agree with you – show me video proof that has good enough resolution to actually see some detail, and I’ll rethink it. But none of them ever do.

  3. I don’t care if it is real or not and I certainly hope we never find out. I wouldn’t try to hunt down Santa Claus, that is also asking for disappointment.

  4. To eliminate speculation, the instructor should have flown right next to the object, or a CLOSE flyby.
    Maybe keep it in sight for a few more minutes to see what happens.