We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Screenshot from Trevor Jacob's Youtube video. Trevor Jacob/Youtube
Los Angeles

Man faces 20 years in prison for deliberately crashing his plane to boost his YouTube channel

The dramatic footage shows Trevor Jacob ejecting from the plane — selfie-stick in hand — and parachuting into a forest.

A US MAN faces up to 20 years in prison for deliberately crashing his plane into the ground, after he bailed out midair, to boost views on his YouTube channel. 

In a video seen by nearly three million people and entitled “I crashed my airplane,” Trevor Jacob appears to experience engine trouble while flying over southern California in November 2021.

The dramatic footage shows Jacob, 29, ejecting from the single engine plane — selfie-stick in hand — and parachuting into the dense vegetation of the Los Padres National Forest.

Cameras placed all over the aircraft show its out-of-control descent into the forest, and its eventual crash landing.

DBC10D15-B942-43E2-AEE7-BC0AD48BB8E2 Jacob exiting the plane. Youtube / Trevor Jacob Youtube / Trevor Jacob / Trevor Jacob

Jacob films himself hiking to the wreckage where he appears dismayed to discover the water he packed has disappeared.

Viewers see him bush-whacking through poison oak and over hills as he seemingly struggles to find civilization, giving regular updates about how thirsty he is, and how lost he feels.

Finally he stops to scoop water from a stream, and moments later comes across a vehicle and apparent salvation as night falls.

In the weeks after the incident, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched a probe into the crash, and Jacob was ordered to preserve the wreckage.

The YouTuber told officials he did not know where the plane had gone down, but, according to a plea deal lodged in Los Angeles, two weeks after the drama he and a friend winched the wreckage out of the forest with a helicopter, having earlier recovered data from the onboard cameras.

Over the next few days, he cut up the plane into small pieces, and dumped the parts in trash bins in and around Lompoc City Airport.

The FAA, the body that regulates flying in the United States, yanked Jacob’s pilot’s license in April 2022.

In a plea agreement, Jacob admitted he had intended to obstruct federal authorities when he disposed of the wreckage, and had created the video to make money through a sponsorship with a wallet company.

“Jacob further admitted he lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power approximately 35 minutes after takeoff,” a statement from the Department of Justice said.

“Jacob also lied to an FAA aviation safety inspector when he said the airplane’s engine had quit and, because he could not identify any safe landing options, he had parachuted out of the plane.”

He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The YouTuber is expected to formally enter his plea in Los Angeles in the coming weeks, and be sentenced at a later date.

The video he posted, which can be seen here, attracted a lot of criticism in the weeks and months after it was published.

Numerous pilots and aviation experts commented that Jacob had failed to take even elementary steps to restart his plane’s apparently troubled engine.

Others pointed out that he could easily have safely glided the plane to a landing spot, and that wearing a parachute while flying a small aircraft was highly unusual.

 - © AFP 2023

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel