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Feds Say YouTuber-Pilot Intentionally Crashed Plane for Views

Trevor Jacob filmed himself parachuting out of a nose-diving plane, prompting a federal investigation.

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A man films himself falling through the sky using a selfie stick. A plane is visible above.
A screenshot from the video in question.
Screenshot: Gizmodo (Other)

Apparently, actions have consequences.

The pilot, YouTuber, and former Olympic snowboarder, Trevor Jacob, who posted a 13-minute video of himself escaping a crashing plane in December 2021, no longer has a license to fly. This comes after the Federal Aviation Administration wrapped up a 3-month long investigation that uncovered some pretty insane findings.

In an April 11 letter to Jacob, first revealed in a New York Times report on Wednesday, the FAA said evidence shows he operated the flight to purposely cause it to crash, adding evidence like, “during this flight, you opened the left side pilot door before you claimed the engine had failed.”


Investigators also noted that Jacob had put cameras inside and outside the plane, including in the direction of the front propeller to get the best angle on the stall and nosedive, and that the (now former) pilot was wearing a parachute pack from the onset of filming.

The FAA also mentioned that Jacob didn’t contact emergency Air Traffic Control via radio, didn’t try to restart the plane’s engine, didn’t scope out places to safely land before exiting the plane, and “jumped out of N29508 while holding a camera attached to a selfie stick and continued to record the aircraft during your descent.” And, although we at Gizmodo aren’t sure that filming something proves you made it happen, the rest of the points seem pretty valid and are in line with earlier accusations made against Jacob.

“Your flight on November 24, 2021, as described herein, were careless of reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another,” the letter continued.

“The Acting Administrator finds that you lack the qualifications necessary to hold your Private Pilot Certificate and any other airman certificates issued to you. The Acting Administrator therefore has determined that safety in air commerce or air transportation and the public interest require the revocation of the above-mentioned certificate(s),” said the letter. The FAA further threatened that if Jacob does not surrender his pilot certifications, he will be fined up to $1,644,000 per day.

Revoking Jacob’s license and issuing fines is about all the FAA is authorized to do. The agency cannot prosecute, but it could in theory refer the case to the Department of Justice.

In the video, titled “I Crashed My Plane,” Jacob is flying his small aircraft over the Sierra Nevada mountains when external cameras show the propeller stop rotating. Jacob jumps and deploys a parachute, while the plane crashes into a forest. The bulk of the video is Jacob narrating himself wandering around post-escape. At around the 12-minute mark, he claims he experienced a random “engine out.” The video has netted more than 1.75 million views at the time of writing this.

Jacob has further claimed that he was flying between Lompoc City Airport and Mammoth Lakes when his plane stalled. And since suspicion first arose, he released another video in which he said, regarding the plane crash, “I can’t talk about it per my attorney, but the truth of that situation will come out with time.”