Extreme athlete Trevor Jacob has generated over 3.7 million views with his YouTube video “I Crashed My Airplane” since the end of 2021. But the attention it has attracted could cost the 29-year-old dearly: he has pleaded guilty to obstructing investigations by US federal authorities. Among other things, he has confessed to deliberately destroying and disposing of the wreckage of a plane that he intentionally crashed in Los Padres National Park in California. He did this to gain online viewers, the former Olympic snowboarder told investigators, confirming suspicions by observers.
Planned crash for attention
The admitted case of “destruction and concealment” to deceive the authorities is a criminal offense, the prosecutor’s office for the Central District of California said on Thursday in a statement also distributed by the US Department of Justice. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison. However, due to the confession, the scope of sanctions could not be fully exhausted. Law enforcement has filed charges in US Court for the District of Los Angeles. He is expected to make his first appearance there in the coming weeks.
According to his acknowledgment of guilt, Jacob is a veteran pilot and skydiver who had a sponsorship deal with a company that makes wallets, among other things. In this context, the Californian agreed to advertise one of the company’s products in a YouTube video. On November 24, 2021, he departed Lompoc City Airport on a Taylorcraft BL64 on a solo flight ostensibly to Mammoth Lakes. According to the acknowledgment, however, Jacob had no intention of achieving his goal. Instead, he planned to parachute down during the flight and film the plane’s crash with a camera and selfie stick.
Confession: repeatedly lied to authorities
On November 26, 2021, Jacob notified the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which launched an investigation the same day. This let him know that he was responsible for securing the wreck and making it available. Jacob agreed to determine the crash site and provide investigators with both the coordinates and video of the crash. Three days later, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched its own investigation. The YouTuber has admitted to repeatedly lying to authorities. He picked up the wreckage himself, chopped it up, and over the course of a few days dumped the severed parts in garbage cans at Lompoc Airport and elsewhere to complicate the work of federal authorities. The pilot later lost his pilot’s license.