YouTuber Jailed for Staging Plane Crash for Views

A YouTube content creator has been sentenced to six months in prison after admitting to crashing his plane intentionally to gain views and subsequently misleading U.S. investigators about the incident.

YouTuber Jailed for Staging Plane Crash for Views
Trevor Jacob

Trevor Jacob, 30, a former Olympic snowboarder, posted the dramatic footage of the crash in December 2021, initially suggesting it was an accidental event. He recorded himself ejecting from the plane, capturing the scene with a selfie stick, and parachuting to safety.

The video quickly garnered millions of views and was part of a product sponsorship deal, as revealed in a plea agreement. Earlier this year, Jacob pleaded guilty to a felony charge of destruction and concealment aimed at obstructing a federal investigation.

Federal prosecutors in California stated on Monday that Jacob’s actions were likely motivated by a desire to gain social media attention and financial benefits. They emphasized that such reckless and dangerous behavior could not be tolerated.

In response to his sentencing, Jacob expressed humility and acceptance, acknowledging that the outcome was the correct decision.

The incident unfolded in November 2021 when Jacob embarked on a solo flight from a Santa Barbara, California, airport. He had equipped his aircraft with multiple cameras and carried a parachute and selfie stick. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Jacob had no intention of completing his flight but planned to eject mid-flight, capturing his parachute descent and the subsequent crash of the plane.

The aircraft crashed into the Los Padres National Forest, 35 minutes after takeoff. Jacob managed to recover the footage from the crash site, which he then uploaded to YouTube under the title “I crashed my airplane.” The video also featured a promotional segment for a wallet company.

Viewers raised suspicions about the authenticity of the crash, noting Jacob’s preparedness with a parachute and his lack of effort to safely land the aircraft. Following the crash, Jacob reported the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and was instructed to preserve the wreckage. However, he falsely claimed ignorance of the crash site’s location.

Contrary to his statement, Jacob returned to the site by helicopter, secured the wreckage, and later destroyed it, as stated in the plea agreement. The video, which had accumulated nearly three million views, was eventually removed from YouTube.

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