A YouTuber pilot was sentenced to six months in federal prison by the Central District of California on Monday for intentionally crashing an airplane for online views. In May earlier this year, 30-year-old Trevor Daniel Jacob pleaded guilty to obstructing a federal investigation into the incident after submitting a false report regarding the location of the wreckage and claiming that engine failure had caused the crash.
According to the US attorney’s office, Jacob had planned to intentionally eject from his aircraft and film himself parachuting to the ground during a solo flight on November 24th, 2021, that was allegedly destined for Mammoth Lakes, California. Several video cameras were mounted to his plane before takeoff, which, alongside a selfie-stick-mounted camera held by Jacob after ejecting, were used to record the plane’s descent and subsequent crash into the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria.
Jacob told investigators he was unaware of the wreckage location shortly before uploading footage of the crash to YouTube
After informing the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on November 26th, Jacob agreed to provide both the coordinates of the downed plane and videos of the wreckage to NTSB investigators. Jacob later claimed he was unaware of the crash location, despite collecting the wreckage via helicopter on December 10th and disposing of it in trash bins around Lompoc Airport. A video titled “I Crashed My Airplane” showing footage documenting the crash and Jacob’s parachute descent was later uploaded to his YouTube channel on December 23rd, 2021, as part of a sponsorship deal promoting a company’s wallet.
Prosecutors during the investigation said that Jacob “most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain” and stressed that “this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated.” In hindsight, if you’re going to lie about doing something dangerous and illegal, maybe don’t record yourself doing it and then publish it publicly for monetary gain.
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