Federal investigators looking into the mysterious jet pack sightings near Los Angeles International Airport believe they may have identified the culprit — human-size Jack Skellington balloons, according to a report.
The FAA and FBI told NBC Los Angeles Monday the three sightings of purported jet packs being operated thousands of feet in the sky near LAX in August 2020, October 2020 and most recently in July may have been an inflatable version of Tim Burton’s iconic “A Nightmare Before Christmas” character.
The theory was floated as a possible explanation as NBC Los Angeles obtained photos and videos from an LAPD helicopter crew showing what appears to be an oversize balloon above Holmby Hills and Beverly Hills in early November 2020 — roughly two weeks after the second reported sighting.
“One working theory is that pilots might have seen balloons,” the federal agencies told the station in a statement.
One law enforcement official speculated the inflatable may have broken loose from a Halloween display weeks earlier. The unidentified official said agents have all but ruled out other possibilities for the strange sightings, including that a drone carrying a jet pack-like object was flying high in the skies.
“The FAA has worked closely with the FBI to investigate every reported jetpack sighting,” the statement continued. “So far, none of these sightings have been verified.”
The first alleged jet pack sighting was on Aug. 30, 2020, by an American Airlines flight crew on its final approach to LAX. Months later, another unidentified object that resembled a jet pack was spotted in October by a China Airlines pilot over Culver City or Century City, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The third instance came on July 28 when the pilot of a Boeing 747 cargo plane told air traffic controllers he saw a “jet man” off his right wing at about 5,000 feet, the station reported.
Other pilots in the vicinity during the latest report were alerted out of an “abundance of caution,” FAA officials said at the time.
The FAA and the FBI said last September they were investigating the August 2020 sighting, but later concluded they were most likely not people operating jet packs, CBS Los Angeles reported last November.
An aviation consultant and retired airline pilot, meanwhile, told NBC Los Angeles the images of what appears to be a Jack Skellington balloon align with what the pilots reported.
“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.”