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YouTuber Trevor Jacob admits to crashing plane for views

Trevor Jacob skydiving, filming himself holding a selfie stick with his empty plane in the sky above him

US prosecutors have announced that YouTuber Trevor Jacob will plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation by cleaning up the site of an intentionally crashed aeroplane, which he filmed and posted on YouTube in December 2021. The video, which has since garnered over 2.9 million views, was initially presented as an accident, but Mr Jacob later admitted that he filmed it as part of a product sponsorship deal. In the plea agreement, he will plead guilty to one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which could result in up to 20 years in prison.

Mr Jacob left a Santa Barbara, California airport on a solo flight with cameras mounted on his plane in November 2021, taking a parachute and a selfie stick with him. According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, he had planned to eject from the aircraft during the flight, film himself parachuting to the ground, and the plane as it descended and crashed. The plane crashed into the Los Padres National Forest 35 minutes after takeoff, after which Mr Jacob hiked to the site and recovered the footage.

After posting the video, some YouTube viewers expressed scepticism about the crash, noting that Mr Jacob was already wearing a parachute and made no attempt to land the plane safely. He reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board, who informed him that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage. According to the plea agreement, Mr Jacob claimed that he did not know the location of the site, but in reality, he did. He returned by helicopter and secured and removed the wreckage, which he later destroyed.

Mr Jacob, a 29-year-old pilot and skydiver, will make his initial court appearance in the coming weeks. His pilot’s license was revoked last year.

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