Two years after YouTuber Trevor Jacob crashed his Taylorcraft BL65 on camera, a judge has sentenced him to federal prison. The plane fell into California's Los Padres National Forest, though Jacob landed in hot water as he was swiftly accused of purposely wrecking the aircraft for views. Feds investigated the situation soon after and prosecutors won their case against Jacob on Monday, Dec. 4, resulting in a six-month sentence for the 30-year-old.
Jacob set off on what was initially claimed to be a roughly 215-mile flight from Lompoc City Airport to Mammoth Lakes on Nov. 24, 2021, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California. He only made it 35 minutes or so into the trip before crashing, and he then reported the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board about two days later. The NTSB told Jacob he was responsible for preserving the wreckage, though Jacob purported he was unaware of its location. Prosecutors, however, say Jacob hired a contractor to help extract the aircraft from the forest. The former pilot transported the "cut up and destroyed" plane with his truck and trailer, eventually discarding it in multiple trash bins around the Lompoc City Airport.
Prosecutors also say Jacob lied to the Federal Aviation Administration about the cause of the crash, saying the plane lost power. This was called into question as Jacob filmed the incident from several angles, and he was already wearing a parachute when the aircraft started its descent. All this was chronicled in a 13-minute video Jacob uploaded to YouTube titled, "I Crashed My Airplane." The footage has accumulated 4.4 million views.
What's more, prosecutors say the stunt was arranged to garner exposure for a wallet Jacob had been paid to promote. The name of the wallet manufacturer isn't mentioned in the court documents, though it's worth noting that Jacob's video included a promotion for The Ridge, a company that sells metal wallets.
Jacob has publicly accepted responsibility for his actions, previously admitting to destroying the plane for clicks as well as cutting up the wreckage. He pleaded guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.
Jacob wrote a letter to a judge saying, “While I carefully researched the plane route to make sure the crash would not be near human housing or trail routes, I should have never gone forward with it." Jacob added in a statement released by his lawyers that he's "excited to continue [his] positive growth as a person" and that this was a "massive learning experience."
The FAA has apparently since reinstated Jacob's pilot's license.
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