The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has found that Trevor Jacob, a daredevil YouTuber, who operates a YouTube channel under his own name, intentionally crashed his plane into the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California after claiming the plane had malfunctioned.
Jacob claims that he took to the skies to spread the ashes of a deceased friend, Johnny Strange, over the top of a Sierra Nevada mountain. Strange died in a BASE jumping accident in October, 2015.
In the video entitled “I Crashed My Plane,”Jacobs initially appears upbeat, flying his plane adorned with numerous cameras to capture the moment.
However, not long after take-off, his plane, a 1940 Taylorcraft, appears to stall. It is at this point Jacob, who was already wearing a parachute, bails out of the plane in full view of the cameras and plummets to the ground holding another camera that captured his descent.
After landing in dense brush, Jacob tells the camera, “I’m just so happy to be alive.” He documents his trek out of the mountains, which he says took some 6-hours, after finding his wrecked plane in a thicket of dried shrubs.
On April 11, the FAA issued Jacob’s a letter saying he had violated federal aviation regulations and operated his single-engine aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another,” the New York Times reported.
Jacob has had his private pilot certificate revoked and is no longer permitted to operate any aircraft.
When Jacob was asked about the FFA’s ruling on Wednesday via email Jacob appeared to be ignorant of the decision replying, “Where’d you get that information?”
The YouTube video, documenting the crash, is still published and has to date garnered over 1.96 million views and 21,000 likes however viewers were quick to comment that the entire ordeal appeared staged.
The top comment on the video reads in part, “I’m guessing this seemed like a good idea for views at some point…I’m really looking forward to the YouTube apology video after this.” The comment attracted over 2.3 thousand likes.
Another comment reads, “If this wasn’t staged, you’re a bad pilot. If this was staged, you’re possibly a criminal.”
“So many red flags, but the wrist camera is what really gives it away. That is not something you would use to capture footage in an airplane cockpit, but it IS exactly what you would use while parachuting,” reads another top comment.
Experts viewing the video said the entire ordeal appeared orchestrated for “views and likes” pointing to several steps Jacob took, “such as wearing a parachute in the first place,” as evidence of a “preconceived publicity stunt,” the New York Times reported.
In a letter to the New York Times, the FAA agreed that the parachute detail was suspect and pointed out other details that support the notion that the entire ordeal was staged.
“During this flight, you opened the left side pilot door before you claimed the engine had failed,” the FAA wrote.
Most notably was the fact that before jumping from the plane, Jacob made no attempt to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency, nor did he try to restart the engine and he failed to look for a safe landing area “even though there were multiple areas within gliding range in which [he] could have made a safe landing,” the FAA said in the letter to the New York Times.
The FFA says that following the crash Jacob also “recovered and then disposed of the wreckage.”
“You 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,” the FAA said adding that, “Your egregious and intentional actions on these dates indicate that you presently lack the degree of care, judgment and responsibility required of a certificate holder.”