A YouTuber who deliberately sent his plane crashing to the ground to get a boost in views could be jailed for 20 years, US authorities said on Thursday. The Guardian reported that Trevor Jacob has agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. The crime carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The video in which he staged a plane crash has been seen three million times.
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The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had revoked the private pilot certificate of the 29-year-old.
The authorities in the US said that he purposely destroyed the wreckage of the small single-engine plane that he crashed in California’s Los Padres national forest in December 2021.
In the clip titled ‘I Crashed My Plane’, Mr Jacob can be seen parachuting out of a single-engine aircraft – which he claimed had malfunctioned – with a selfie stick in hand.
Cameras placed all over the aircraft show its out-of-control descent into the forest and its eventual crash landing.
The clip was initially met with skepticism from aviation enthusiasts, who questioned if the crash was a real accident. But, the New York Times reported later that the FAA agreed that it seemed odd that Mr Jacob was wearing a parachute in the first place.
The aviation authorities also noted that Mr Jacob made no attempt to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency, did not attempt restarting the engine, and did not look for a place to land even though there were multiple areas within gliding range in which he could have made a safe landing. The FAA continued that following the crash, the YouTuber “recovered and then disposed of the wreckage”.
In the plea agreement, the YouTuber, who describes himself as an experienced pilot and skydiver, admitted that he never intended to complete his solo flight from Lompoc airport in southern California to Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Mr Jacob is expected to formally enter his plea in Los Angeles in the coming weeks, and will be sentenced at a later date.