The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has revoked the license of a former aircraft pilot and an influencer who crashed his plane on purpose as a publicity stunt, pretending it to be an accident.
On November 24, 2021, Trevor Jacob — a famous YouTuber — who is also a former Olympic Snowboarder and an extreme sports athlete was flying his vintage 1940s Taylorcraft BL-65 single-engine leisure plane over California’s Los Padres national forest when his propeller stopped working.
Jacob filmed the whole incident and uploaded it to YouTube in a video titled ‘I Crashed My Plane’, which has received more than 2 million views since it was posted online.
“I’m over the mountains and I … have an engine out,” Jacob said into his camera while sitting in the cockpit, appearing to be in panic mid-flight as his engine stops working.
He then jumps out of the plane, filming himself using a selfie stick, and parachutes to safety into an open field.
In the video, the empty plane is shown speeding towards the mountains before crashing into the wilderness.
Jacob hits the ground hard in the wilderness, landing in some bushes, video shows. “I’m just so happy to be alive. I’m just kind of taking in what happened,” he says about 20 minutes later.
The FAA Investigation
Following the crash, the FAA launched an investigation into the incident and concluded on April 11 that Jacob had crashed his plane as a stunt.
“On November 24, 2021, 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,” said the agency in its six-page letter to Jacob that was made public.
The FAA cited its observations to justify its conclusion, one of which noted the presence of multiple cameras on the outside of the plane, including a camera pointed in the direction of the propeller “to record video footage of the outside and inside of the plane during the flight.”
The FAA also pointed out that Jacob was seen opening the left side pilot door before claiming that the engine failed, plus he failed to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency before jumping out of the plane.
The FAA also said that Jacob did not attempt to restart the engine by increasing airflow over the propeller, nor did he make any attempts to search for safe areas to land.
The agency further added that he jumped out of the plane while holding a camera attached to a selfie stick and continued to record the plane during his descent.
Another piece of evidence cited by the FAA was the sport parachute backpack container that Jacob put on before the flight.
Additionally, the agency found that Jacob had recovered then disposed of the plane wreckage, as well as recovered the cameras that he had attached to the plane before the flight.
Aviation Experts, YouTubers Suspected Jacob
Some of the observations of the FAA were also made by many aviation experts shortly after Jacob posted the video online, prompting him to turn off the comments on his video.
For example, Jacob was wearing a parachute before his flight. While, Jacob took the precaution for this by saying, “that’s why I always freaking fly with a parachute,” YouTubers found several of his previous videos in which he did fly without wearing a parachute.
Others pointed out that small aircraft pilots don’t wear parachutes because of space constraints.
“Wearing a parachute is difficult when you’re flying a plane that small,” said Robert “Captain Bob” Perry, a flight instructor based out of the nearby Santa Ynez Airport.
“It would require removing the seat cushion or some other modification.”
Perry also objected to Jacob’s quick decision of exiting the plane instead of looking for a place to land.
The footage shows a large, flat expanse not far in the distance. “From the looks of it, he could’ve guided that plane 15 or 20 more miles and landed it on more level ground,” Perry said.
In addition to several such small details, it was found that the plane was purchased by Jacob only a month before the incident.
Pilot License Revoked
As a result of its findings, the FAA has revoked Jacob’s pilot license and informed him in the letter that if he fails to surrender his certificates immediately, he will be subject to further legal enforcement action, including a civil penalty of up to $1644 for each day he fails to surrender it.
In response to the letter, Jacob posted a video saying, “I didn’t think that just posting a video of an adventure gone south would ruffle so many feathers.”
“The aviation community has been pretty tough on me, so I’m thinking about quitting altogether and giving up, just because I’m hated,” he added while filming himself on his way to the post office to mail his pilot’s license.
According to the letter, Jacob is not allowed to reapply for his pilot license for a year.