YouTuber Who Crashed Airplane for Views Agrees to Plead Guilty on Felony Charges

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
May 13, 2023US News
YouTuber Who Crashed Airplane for Views Agrees to Plead Guilty on Felony Charges
The Department of Justice building in Washington on Feb. 9, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

A 29-year-old California man who intentionally crashed an airplane to gain views on his YouTube channel has been charged with obstruction of a federal investigation, the Justice Department announced in a press release. The man has agreed to plead guilty.

On Nov. 24, 2021, Trevor Daniel Jacob filmed the crashing of his own plane after ejecting himself while parachuting to the ground, but later lied to authorities about the whereabouts of the crashed airplane and attempted to hide the debris.

He has now been charged with destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, a felony crime carrying a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

Jacob, who is an experienced pilot and skydiver, took off in his airplane that November from Lompoc City Airport on a solo flight purportedly destined for Mammoth Lakes.

Prior to takeoff, Jacob had equipped the airplane with several video cameras attached to different parts of the airplane.

Approximately 35 minutes after taking off, while flying above the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria, Jacob grabbed his parachute and jumped out of the airplane equipped with a video camera and a selfie stick.

After parachuting to the ground, Jacob hiked to the location of the wreck and recovered the onboard video recordings of his flight and the crash.

Two days later, he informed the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about the crash, saying a total power failure had forced him to exit the plane. The NTSB immediately launched an investigation, informing Jacob that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage until the investigation was concluded.

A few days later, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched its own investigation into the plane crash. According to the plea agreement, Jacob again lied about an engine failure, and also claimed to not know the wreckage’s location.

On Dec. 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site. They strapped the wreckage to the helicopter and flew it to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck.

Jacob then took the wreckage to a hangar at Lompoc City Airport, where he spent several days cutting up the plane’s remnants into small pieces and scattering them into trash bins at the airport and other locations.

Jacob admitted his intent was to obstruct federal authorities from investigating the plane crash, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Two weeks later, on Dec. 23, 2021, Jacob uploaded the edited footage of his stunt to his YouTube channel in a video titled, “I Crashed My Airplane,” where he acted as if the crash was no premeditated event.

“I’m just so happy to be alive; I’m just taking in what just happened,” he said after landing in the dry bush. “That’s why I always fly with a parachute.”

Jacob’s pilot license was revoked in April 2022.

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