YouTuber who deliberately crashed his plane and hid wreckage pleads guilty to obstructing investigation, Justice Department says

California prosecutors have charged a YouTuber pilot who deliberately crashed his airplane for online views and then misled investigators about the location of the wreck.


Trevor Daniel Jacob, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, prosecutors said. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison, the Justice Department said in a news release.


The Federal Aviation Administration revoked Jacob’s pilot license in April 2022.

An experienced pilot and skydiver, Jacob agreed to promote a wallet in a YouTube video as part of a sponsorship deal, according to his plea agreement.

On November 24, 2021, Jacob filmed himself in his airplane taking off from Lompoc City Airport on a flight destined for Mammoth Lakes. But Jacob never intended to reach his destination. Instead, he planned to film himself ejecting mid-flight while his plane crashed, he admitted in the plea agreement.

As part of his plan, Jacob mounted multiple video cameras on different parts of the airplane and was himself prepared with a parachute, video camera, and selfie stick, prosecutors said.


Thirty-five minutes after taking off, as he was flying above the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria, Jacob filmed himself jumping from the airplane and parachuting to the ground. Meanwhile, the cameras mounted on the airplane captured it crashing into a dry brush area in forest, according to prosecutors.


“After parachuting to the ground, Jacob hiked to the location of the wreck and recovered the data containing the video recording of his flight and the crash of the airplane,” his plea agreement stated.


Two days later, Jacob informed the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about the plane crash. The agency immediately launched an investigation and told Jacob that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage so the agency could examine it.


“Jacob agreed to determine the crash location and provide both the coordinates of the downed plane and videos of the crash to NTSB investigators,” prosecutors said.

Three days later, the FAA launched its own investigation into the crash.


During the investigations, Jacob lied about his knowledge of the plane wreckage’s location and instead carried out an elaborate plan to hide the wreckage, prosecutors said.


On Dec. 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew to the site of the crash in a helicopter and transported the wreckage to a ranch, where he loaded it onto a trailer attached to his pickup truck, prosecutors said.


Jacob then drove the wreckage to Lompoc City Airport and unloaded it in a hangar. He proceeded to cut up and destroy the wreckage and then, over a few days, he deposited its parts into trash bins at the airport, prosecutors said.


Jacob admitted he did all this to hinder the federal investigation into the plane crash, according to the plea agreement.

On Dec. 23, 2021, Jacob uploaded a YouTube video depicting the plane crash titled, “I Crashed My Airplane.” The video included a promotion for a wallet, and Jacob admitted in his plea agreement that he posted the video to make money.


“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,” according to prosecutors.


“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,” prosecutors added.

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