The FBI and FAA speculate that supposed sightings of a “Jetpack Man” over Los Angeles may actually be escaped Nightmare Before Christmas balloons.
Authorities investigating a series of bizarre sightings of an alleged “Jetpack Man” over Los Angeles now believe it involves less science fiction and more whimsy. In fact, the prevailing theory is that the sightings are the result of escaped balloons, particularly a rogue life-sized balloon of Jack Skellington from Disney’s 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Multiple sightings have fueled the Jetpack Man rumors, with three reported by pilots who were lining up to land at the Los Angeles International Airport, according to NBC Los Angeles. The first occurred on July 28, 2020, the second on Aug. 30 and the third on Oct. 14. The crew of an LAPD helicopter captured pictures of the apparent Jack Skellington balloon shortly after one of the sightings.
“The FFA has worked closely with the FBI to investigate every reported jetpack sighting,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in an official statement. “So far, none of these sightings have been verified.” This means that, while the authorities have theories about the sightings being the result of escaped balloons, they do not have definite answers.
Retired airline pilot and aviation consultant Ross Aimer has expressed his support for the Jack Skellington balloon theory, stating, “This now explains that this could possibly be what they saw.” He continued, “There’s a very good possibility the previous ones were also balloons and pilots mistook them as jetpacks. This is a better explanation to me and to the aviation community.”
Directed by Henry Selick and written by Caroline Thompson from a story by Tim Burton, The Nightmare Before Christmas follows Jack Skellington, the King of Halloween Town. Jack, who has become disillusioned and bored with his own holiday, stumbles upon Christmas Town and quickly becomes obsessed with the jolly winter celebration. The cast includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix.
The film has become a pop culture phenomenon since its release in 1993, inspiring a myriad of Nightmare Before Christmas video games, toys, books, comics, manga and other merchandise tie-ins. Inflatable characters from the movie are popular decorations during both the Halloween and Christmas seasons.
Large balloons are common at a range of celebrations and venues. For example, a giant Totoro balloon now floats above the Ghibli Museum, and a Pokémon sled balloon featuring Pikachu and Eevee and another of Baby Yoda will feature in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is available to stream on Disney+.