A content creator and former pilot who agreed to a plea deal in which he will admit that he crashed his plane for YouTube views.
Trevor Jacob will plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, according to the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. The news comes after Jacob crashed his 1940 Taylorcraft BL-65 more than a year ago and then destroyed the plane before federal investigators could evaluate the wreckage to determine the cause.
Prosecutors say that Jacob purposefully set off on his journey with the sole intention of crashing the plane. He equipped the single-engine plane with several cameras around it, put on a parachute, and then ejected from the plane once he reached the Los Padres National Forest, where he parachuted to the ground.
Following the crash, Jacob informed the National Transportation Safety Board of the incident, which launched an investigation into the crash on the same day. Three days later, the Federal Aviation Administration also opened a probe into the incident.
The NTSB informed Jacob to preserve the wreckage and that he would need to provide the location of the crash to the agency. Despite that, Jacob lied to investigators and informed them that he could not provide the location of the crash. He then flew a helicopter to the wreckage site with a friend and airlifted the plane to a location where he had prepared a pickup truck and trailer. The Taylorcraft was then towed to a nearby airport and unloaded in a hanger, only to cut up the plane and dispose of the wreckage in multiple locations.
Jacob posted the video online several weeks after the crash. It was immediately met with harsh criticism from aviation enthusiasts who questioned if Jacob crashed the plane for views or if he could have better handled the failure if it were real.
As it turns out, Jacob's plea deal revealed that the plane was intentionally crashed to make money on YouTube. He also told investigators he secured a sponsorship deal with an unnamed wallet manufacturer. The YouTuber then used the video to promote the company's wallet as part of the sponsorship.
"[Jacob] had secured a sponsorship from a company that sold various products, including a wallet." reads the U.S. Department of Justice statement. "Pursuant to the sponsorship deal, Jacob agreed to promote the company’s wallet in a YouTube video that he would post."
The name of the sponsoring company isn't specifically mentioned, but it's worth noting that the original video posted online by Jacob included a promotion for The Ridge, a small card-only metal wallet. After the video stirred up controversy online, the plug was removed from an edited-down version. The introduction to the original video can still be seen elsewhere on YouTube.
Despite the controversy, Jacob's promo code remains active on Ridge's website as of Friday afternoon. The YouTube video also remained up and monetized, meaning that despite admitting to a crime related to the video, Jacbob may still be profiting from it.
Neither The Ridge nor Google responded to The Drive's request for comment at the time of writing.
The Justice Department officially entered the plea agreement and the charges against Jacob on Wednesday. He is expected to make his initial court appearance "in the coming weeks."
Got a tip or question for the author? Contact them directly: email@example.com