US Federal Aviation Administration: Youtuber intentionally crashed his plane because he wanted to film it
Video blogger and former Olympic athlete Trevor Jacob filmed jumping out of his plane after an alleged engine failure. Now the US aviation authority FAA has raised serious allegations against the Youtuber.
The FAA has revoked video blogger Trevor Jacob’s pilot’s license. The trigger is a YouTube clip in which the 28-year-old jumps with a parachute out of his allegedly defective plane over a Californian national park, as reported by the New York Times. The FAA determined that the pilot intentionally crashed the single-engine aircraft in Los Padres National Forest in Southern California.
Jacob is a former professional snowboarder and represented the USA at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The extreme athlete now runs a YouTube channel with 134,000 subscribers. On November 24 of last year he was reported of the portal of aviation news “Aerotelegraph” departed from Lompoc Airport in California on a 81-year-old Taylorcraft BL-65 for a flight to Mammoth Mountain. He had therefore only recently bought the plane. Observers would have described it as “in need of a lot of maintenance”.
Trevor Jacob releases video of the crash
On the way, the machine allegedly had an engine failure. Jacob curses as the propeller stops spinning, and – filmed by previously installed external cameras – opens the plane’s door, drops out, and, selfie stick in hand, sails toward the woods as the Taylorcraft crashes. The Youtuber is slightly injured when landing in the thorny bushes, but finds the wreck in a thicket of dried up bushes and hides the cameras. After what he says was at least a six-hour hike through the wilderness, a farmer finds him at dusk.
A month later, Jacob posted a heavily edited 13-minute video of the events titled “I Crashed My Plane” on his channel. In January, he said in a statement that he flew that day to scatter the ashes of his best friend Johnny Strange on top of a Sierra Nevada mountain. Johnny Strange died base jumping in 2015.
Almost immediately after the footage was released, viewers and aviation experts in the channel’s comment columns expressed doubts about Jacob’s portrayal, claiming the crash was staged to generate more viewers and likes. For example, it is very unusual that the 28-year-old wore a parachute. The FAA agreed, according to the New York Times, and also pointed to other details that agency officials uncovered during an investigation.
“During that flight you opened the left pilot flap before claiming that the engine had failed,” the FAA wrote. In addition, Jacob had neither attempted to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency nor to restart the engine by increasing the airflow over the propeller. He also did not look for a safe place to land, “although there were several areas within gliding range where you could have landed safely.”
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According to the New York Times, the FAA wrote to Jacob on April 11 that he violated federal aviation regulations and operated his single-engine aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner that could harm the life or property of a… endangered others”. The authority is therefore withdrawing his private pilot license with immediate effect and thus his permission to operate aircraft.
FAA accuses Jacob of “egregious acts”.
According to the newspaper, the FAA cannot take criminal action, but can only revoke and suspend certificates and impose fines. The agency asked Jacob to return his pilot’s license and told him he could face “further legal action” if he didn’t, including a civil penalty of up to $1,644 for each day he retained his license.
“You have demonstrated a lack of care, judgment and responsibility by choosing to jump from an airplane just to videotape the crash,” the New York Times quoted the FAA’s letter to Jacobs as saying. “Your outrageous and premeditated actions these days indicate that you presently lack the level of care, judgment and responsibility expected of a ticket holder.” After the crash, the YouTuber “salvaged and then disposed of the wreckage,” according to the FAA.
In a video posted to his YouTube channel last week, Jacob briefly addressed the plane controversy, stating: “I can’t speak out according to my lawyer. But the truth about this situation will emerge over time come and I’ll leave it at that.”