A famous YouTuber, Trevor Daniel Jacob has recently pleaded guilty to federal charges related to an airplane crash that he staged as an unavoidable accident. According to an announcement from federal prosecutors, Jacob now faces the possibility of serving a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Jacob resides in the city of Lompoc, California, and the 29-year-old has confessed to a single count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, as confirmed by a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.
On November 24, 2021, Jacob took off from Lompoc City Airport, falsely stating that his destination was Mammoth Lakes.
However, little did anyone know that he had rigged the airplane with cameras from multiple angles. Approximately 35 minutes after takeoff, Jacob intentionally ejected from the aircraft above the picturesque Los Padres National Forest.
Remarkably, a video of the incident, currently boasting over 2.9 million views on YouTube, captured Jacob’s profanity-laden performance, wherein he simulated an engine failure and feigned the need to abandon the plane.
With a parachute strapped to his back, he bravely leaped out of the aircraft while continuously recording himself. His video chronicles the entire event, including his safe descent to the ground.
After safely parachuting down, Jacob embarked on a hike toward the wreckage of the plane. The mounted cameras on the aircraft meticulously documented the entire crash, and these visuals were subsequently published as part of his ensuing YouTube video.
Alongside showcasing his hiking adventure, Jacob expressed his overwhelming gratitude for being alive and even quenched his thirst by drinking from a nearby stream. All these moments were also captured through Jacob’s resourceful use of a selfie stick. As night fell, the video depicted Jacob spotting headlights from a passing car, eventually leading to his “rescue” by nearby farmers.
Two days later, on November 26, 2021, Jacob reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), prompting an official investigation. However, this is where Jacob’s plan to garner online attention by crashing a plane began to unravel.
“In the weeks following the plane crash, Jacob lied to investigators that he did not know the wreckage’s location, according to the plea agreement. In fact, on December 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site. There, Jacob used straps to secure the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck,” federal prosecutors said in a press release.
Reports suggest that Jacob proceeded to transport the wreckage of the aircraft to Lompoc City Airport, discreetly unloading it in a hangar. Over the course of several days, he meticulously dismantled the damaged plane, distributing its parts among various trash bins scattered around the airport.
It appears that Jacob aimed to impede federal investigators from uncovering the true cause of the crash, while simultaneously attempting to monetize the video by promoting a wallet brand.
“Jacob further admitted he lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power approximately 35 minutes after takeoff. Jacob also lied to an FAA aviation safety inspector when he said the airplane’s engine had quit and, because he could not identify any safe landing options, he had parachuted out of the plane,” according to federal prosecutors.
The FAA revoked Jacob’s pilot’s license in 2022 and it’s unclear when sentencing is due in this case.