In order to entertain his YouTube subscribers, Trevor Jacob piloted a doomed plane through a clear sky over the Los Padres National Forest in late November 2021. He explained to the audience that he was traveling to Mammoth Lakes. Jacob, however, announced he was experiencing engine trouble a half-hour into the flight, swung the door open, and bailed. While the plane recorded its own terrifying parachute drop into the California wilderness, the man recorded it using a selfie stick.
Since then, countless numbers of people have viewed Jacob’s video, “I Crash My Airplane.” He acknowledged he had planned the entire thing in a plea agreement submitted this week to the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The Justice Department revealed on Thursday that 29-year-old Jacob would enter a guilty plea to concealing evidence and obstructing a federal investigation by intentionally crashing the plane and removing the wreckage in order to increase YouTube views. The maximum sentence for the felony count was 20 years in prison.
His lawyer, Keri Curtis Axel, said in a statement to The Washington Post that Trevor “is taking full responsibility for his error in judgment; he hopes to move past it and to use his status as a world-class action sports athlete, entrepreneur, and influencer to be a source for good in society.”
Authorities claim Jacob made the crash video, which has received over 3 million views on his channel, as part of a promotion for a sponsoring wallet company. Before boarding the plane at Lompoc City Airport in Santa Barbara County, he displays a Ridge wallet in an older version of the video that is no longer available on his channel. Although the Los Angeles Times reported that a promotional link for Jacob was still live on the business’s website on Thursday, the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
He informed the National Transportation Safety Board two days after the collision. The organization started an inquiry and informed Jacob that it was his duty to preserve the debris for inspection.
In contrast, the Justice Department claimed in a statement that Jacob had actually hiked to the site of the wreck after crashing the plane and recovered the camera footage.
The Justice Department claimed that he told lies to investigators in the weeks that followed, stating that he was unaware of the location of the debris. In actuality, he and a friend had used a helicopter to remove the airplane’s wreckage, towed it back to the airport in Jacob’s pickup truck, and then disassembled and disposed of it in garbage cans.
After conducting its own investigation into the collision, the Federal Aviation Administration eventually suspended Jacob’s pilot’s license. According to a report in The Post from last year, the FAA cited a number of pieces of evidence that Jacob intentionally crashed his plane, including his failure to signal air traffic control, start the engine, or make an attempt to land the aircraft “despite there being multiple areas within gliding range in which you could have made a safe landing.”
Jacob, a former snowboarder for Team USA at the Olympics, finished ninth in the men’s snowboard cross event at the 2014 Winter Games. He has posted videos of his skydiving and snowboarding stunts on YouTube, where he has 138,000 subscribers.
Jacob can be heard saying, “Thank you God, thank you universe, thank you higher power for watching over me,” in the crash video, which also shows his journey through the wilderness and eventual rescue.
But YouTube commentators quickly expressed their misgivings. Many of them noted that when Jacob evacuated from the plane, he was already wearing a parachute and had his camera and selfie stick with him. Incredulous pilots and aviation fans posted numerous films delving into Jacob’s disaster.