YouTuber Pleads Guilty to Intentionally Crashing Plane for Views
Twenty-nine-year-old pilot and skydiver Trevor Jacobs earned over 3 million views on a 2021 YouTube video showing him skydiving out of a plane that eventually crashed in California's Los Padres National Forest. At the time he claimed it was an accident.
Now, in a plea deal with the federal government, Jacobs has admitted that he crashed the plane intentionally to make a video as part of a product sponsorship deal for a wallet. He pleaded guilty to one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.
Jacobs flew the plane out of an airport in Santa Barbara, CA, in November 2021 with cameras mounted to the aircraft, as well as a parachute and a selfie stick. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, he "did not intend to reach his destination, but instead planned to eject from his aircraft during the flight and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed."
That's exactly what happened, all caught on camera. Jacobs then hiked to the site of the plane crash to retrieve the footage. He reported it to the National Transportation Safety Board, but misled investigators by saying he did not know where the crash site was.
In fact, Jacobs had already returned to the site of the crash by helicopter, strapped the remains to it, and airlifted it back to a hangar where he cut up and disposed of the parts in an attempted cover up.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Jacobs "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. 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."
YouTube viewers were skeptical of the story from the start, noting that he already had his parachute on and didn't make any attempt to land the plane safely.
He had his pilots license in April 2022. The felony count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.