YouTuber Admits Crashing Plane for Clicks

Former Olympian Trevor Jacob agrees to plead guilty to federal charge
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2022 12:43 PM CDT
Updated May 12, 2023 8:07 AM CDT
UPDATE May 12, 2023 8:07 AM CDT

Former Olympian snowboarder Trevor Jacob has admitted that he crashed his light aircraft in California's Los Padres National Forest to get views on YouTube. In a plea deal announced Thursday, the 29-year-old said the video was part of a product sponsorship deal, the BBC reports. In a press release, prosecutors said Jacob, who filmed himself ejecting from the plane and parachuting to the ground, lied to investigators when he said he didn't know the location of the wreckage. Weeks after the crash, he went to the site by helicopter and retrieved the wreckage, which he then cut up and destroyed, depositing some of the parts in trash bins, prosecutors said. He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

Apr 22, 2022 12:43 PM CDT

A pilot deliberately crashed his small plane so he could air the footage on his YouTube page, a Federal Aviation Administration investigation has concluded. Trevor Jacob, a former Olympian snowboarder whose YouTube channel dedicated to extreme sports counts 134,000 subscribers, had multiple cameras rolling as he jumped out of the single-engine plane, registered as N29508, over California's Los Padres National Forest on Nov. 24, with a parachute on his back. He claimed the engine had failed, per CBS News. But the FAA found he made no attempt to restart the engine or land safely and failed to contact air traffic controllers.

"You operated this flight to purposely cause N29508 to crash," the FAA told Jacob in an April 11 letter obtained by news outlets. It notes Jacob attached multiple cameras to the interior and exterior of the plane before takeoff, including one angled at the propeller. Additionally, "you jumped out of [the plane] while holding a camera attached to a selfie stick and continued to record the aircraft during your descent." Jacob later recovered the wreckage of the plane and the cameras. The footage landed on his YouTube channel in December as part of a 12-minute video titled "I Crashed My Plane," per Fox News. It has since been viewed more than 1.9 million times.

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"That's why I always fly with a parachute," Jacob, who competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, says in the video. But viewers noted he wasn't wearing a parachute in other flying videos. While Jacob tells ABC News that "I did not jump out of my plane for views," the FAA says he "demonstrated a lack of care, judgment and responsibility by choosing to jump out of an aircraft solely so you could record the footage of the crash," per People. The plane went down in the national forest. The FAA is now demanding that he surrender his private pilot license or face a fine of $1,644 per day. He cannot apply for a new license for one year. (More plane crash stories.)

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