Trevor Jacobs agreed to plead guilty to federal charges surrounding the crash and now faces up to 20 years in prison.
A YouTube influencer just admitted to the U.S. Department of Justice that he purposefully crashed his plane to bolster views on his channel for the sake of a sponsorship.
Trevor Jacob, a 29-year-old pilot and skydiver, posted the video of him abandoning his plane mid-flight in December 2021 and now faces one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation after lying to investigators about the crash site.
In the video of the crash, which now boasts 4.1 million views, Jacob flew from Santa Barbara with a stash of cameras, a selfie stick, and a parachute.
Jacob was piloting a 1940 Taylorcraft and carried the ashes of his friend Johnny Strange, who died in a wingsuit accident in 2015.
In the video, Jacob claimed that he was experiencing engine issues only 35 minutes into his flight and later jumped from his plane with a parachute.
Footage from after his jump shows Jacob walking around the brush of the Los Padres National Forest where he landed.
Jacob found his way to safety and notified the authorities about the crash, reporting the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board two days after the crash and agreed to help find the crash site.
However, Department of Justice documents detail that Trevor Jacob instead lied to authorities, stating that he did not know where the crash site was.
In reality, Jacob knew exactly where the crash site was. Roughly two weeks after the crash, Jacob and a friend flew to the site, collected the debris, and later destroyed it at an airport hangar.
In December, Jacob posted the footage on his YouTube channel under the title “I Crashed My Airplane.” The attention-grabbing title lured millions of curious viewers, including other aviation experts.
These experts immediately questioned the authenticity of the crash, citing that Jacob did not attempt to call air traffic control, had opened the plane’s door before he stated that the engine had failed, and did not attempt to restart the engine.
Additionally, Jacob also strategically placed cameras around and on the plane to record the flight from various angles. One of these cameras captured a clear view of Jacob opening the plane door and parachuting out.
But the cherry on top? Jacob had been wearing a parachute since the beginning of the flight.
Not surprisingly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) opened up an investigation into the crash only a month after Jacob posted the video.
In response, Trevor Jacob told the New York Times that he “did not purposely crash my plane for views on YouTube” and made sure to state that he is “filming everything I do.”
Despite Jacob’s claims of innocence, the FAA revoked Jacob’s pilot’s license in April 2022.
This month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they would be charging Jacob with a felony, and he recently agreed to plead guilty.
The Department of Justice stated that Jacob primarily pulled the stunt off to garner more views on his YouTube channel. Additionally, they believe he performed the stunt to promote a brand that had sponsored him.
According to the Department of Justice’s documents, “Jacob admitted in his plea agreement that he intended to make money through the video.”
As of today, Jacob has admitted to crashing a functional plane on purpose, falsely reporting electrical issues to a federal organization, lying to federal agencies regarding the location of the crash site, and destroying crash site materials that would have been used in the investigation.
Jacob will appear in court in a few weeks; only time will tell if the aviator’s next landing will be in prison.
After reading about Trevor Jacob’s plane crash stunt, look at other bizarre stories with ties to YouTube, including the story of Sherry Shriner and her alien cult. Then, explore the stories of seven famous hoaxes that fooled the world.