A YouTuber accused of deliberately crashing his plane in a bid to go viral has pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal investigation. Trevor Jacob faces up to 20 years behind bars after admitting he purposely crashed a small plane in California and attempted to hide the evidence, according to the US Department of Justice.
On May 11, 2023, it was announced that Jacob pled guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. He’s set to make his first court appearance in the coming weeks.
Born in 1993, Jacob is an extreme sports athlete who represented the US in snowboarding at the 2014 Winter Olympics and has since channeled his energy into social media stardom via a popular YouTube channel.
His now-notorious video – which is surprisingly still live on YouTube at the time of writing – titled “I Crashed My Airplane” was uploaded on December 23, 2021. It’s since racked up over 3 million views.
It shows Jacob flying his plane over Los Padres National Forest on November 24. Around 35 minutes after taking off from Lompoc City Airport, Jacob opened the cockpit’s small door and jumped with a parachute (not forgetting his selfie stick to record the whole incident).
"I'm just so happy to be alive," Jacob told the camera after landing. "That's why I always fly with a freaking parachute."
Within the video, Jacob claims he is lost in the wilderness with no phone signal, before finding the wreck and recovering the onboard cameras attached to the plane. After hours of roaming, he appears to come across some farmers who he claimed “saved him.”
On November 26, 2021, Jacob notified the National Transportation Safety Board of the plane crash. He initially said he evacuated the aircraft because it had suffered a full loss of power mid-air. Since he could not identify any safe landing options, he claimed, he had no other option than to parachute out of the plane.
This turned out to be a lie.
In the weeks following the plane crash, Jacob told investigators he no longer knew where the plane wreck landed. However, investigators also found that this was a lie.
On December 10, he and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site and lifted it back to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County. Jacob then drove the wreckage to Lompoc City Airport and unloaded it in a hangar where he broke up the plane into smaller parts and disposed of them in trash bins at the airport and elsewhere, according to the Justice Department.
The video featured a promotion of an unnamed wallet brand. The US Justice Department’s announcement reads: “According to his plea agreement, Jacob is an experienced pilot and skydiver who had secured a sponsorship from a company that sold various products, including a wallet. Pursuant to the sponsorship deal, Jacob agreed to promote the company’s wallet in a YouTube video that he would post.”
“Jacob admitted in his plea agreement that he intended to make money through the video,” it added.