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Pilot Crashes Plane for YouTube Video and Lands in Federal Prison for Six Months

Posted by Fay Arfa | Dec 04, 2023 | 0 Comments

A federal judge sentenced Trevor Daniel Jacob, 30, a YouTuber pilot, to six months in federal prison for obstructing a federal investigation by purposely destroying airplane wreckage that he intentionally crashed in Santa Barbara County to gain online views.
            A company that sold several products, including a wallet, hired Jacob, a pilot, skydiver, and former Olympic athlete, to promote the company's wallet in a YouTube video. On November 24, 2021, Jacob was supposed to fly his plane from Lompoc City Airport to Mammoth Lakes. Instead, Jacob planned to eject from the plane and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed.
Before taking off, Jacob mounted several video cameras on parts of the airplane and equipped himself with a parachute, video camera, and selfie stick. About 35 minutes after taking off, while flying above the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria, Jacob ejected from the airplane and videoed himself parachuting to the ground. Using the video camera mounted on the selfie stick and the video cameras he mounted on the airplane, Jacob recorded the airplane as it descended and crashed into a dry brush area in Los Padres National Forest. 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.
            On November 26, 2021, Jacob told the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about the plane crash. The NTSB investigated the crash and told him to preserve 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. Three days later, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched its own investigation into the plane crash.
            Weeks later, Jacob lied to investigators and said he did not know the wreckage's location. In fact, on December 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site. There, Jacob strapped up the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob's pickup truck. Jacob drove the wreckage to Lompoc City Airport and unloaded it in a hangar. He then cut and destroyed the airplane wreckage and, over the next few days, put the airplane parts into trash bins at the airport and other places to obstruct federal authorities from investigating the November 24 plane crash.
            To make money, on December 23, 2021, Jacob uploaded a YouTube video titled, “I Crashed My Airplane,” which contained a promotion of the wallet and showed him parachuting from the plane and the aircraft's crash. 
            Jacob lied when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely stated the aircraft lost power 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 parachuted out of the plane.

About the Author

Fay Arfa

Fay Arfa has the distinction of being Certified as a Specialist in two separate areas of law – Criminal Law as well as Appellate Law – by the California State Bar, Board of Specialization. The National Board of Trial Advocacy has also awarded her a board Certification in Criminal Trial Advocacy. ...


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