YouTuber Trevor Jacob, 29, built a modestly popular channel of 139,000 subscribers with videos of him on various adventures or doing extreme sports, from skateboarding across the country to hitchhiking, to paramotoring and jumping from the bed of a moving pickup truck to the bed of another. Other videos, however, show that his stunts have a downside: broken bones, infected tattoos and overcoming depression.
Now he will embark on a new adventure of spending up to 20 years in federal prison.
With 3.7 million views, by far his most popular video was “I Crashed My Airplane”. In the 12 minute video he flies a single engine prop plane in the Santa Barbara Hills of Southern California, ostensibly to spread the ashes of a friend. When he suffers an engine failure, he bales out and, camera in hand, records the crash and subsequent day long hike back to civilization, nearly running out of water and giving up hope.
And he just admitted in federal court to crashing it intentionally.
YouTuber pilot Trevor Jacob who bailed out midair and deliberately sent his plane crashing into the ground to bolster viewing numbers on his channel could be jailed for up to 20 years, US authorities have said. pic.twitter.com/ojWzX2NNym
— Breaking Aviation News & Videos (@aviationbrk) May 12, 2023
When he reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board, they told him to preserve the wreckage and he told them he didn’t know the location. But it was a lie. Instead, Jacob and a friend retrieved it in a helicopter and systematically destroyed it. They cut it into small pieces with a chainsaw and hid them in trash cans and dumpsters across his home airport, Lompoc City Airport.
The video had raised suspicions that it was staged. In it, Jacob is already wearing a parachute and neither attempted to restart the engine nor radio air traffic control. He also made no attempt to land the plane, although in the video he claimed there were no suitable place available, but prosecutors say that was a lie, as well. Panicking over the engine failure but having the presence of mind to grab a selfie stick was also suspicious.
The Federal Aviation Administration revoked Jacob’s pilot license last year, calling his actions “careless and reckless”.
Federal prosecutors charged him with obstruction of justice for destroying the aircraft’s wreckage.
And it was all part of a sponsorship deal to promote a wallet with an unnamed company.