World's Stupidest Pilot Sentenced to 6 Months For Intentionally Crashing Airplane

Charlie Mortling

Los Angeles, CA

Last updated on Dec 5, 2023

Posted on Dec 5, 2023

In 2021 YouTuber Trevor Jacob published a video entitled "I Crashed My Plane" in which it was implied that while flying his single engine prop plane had engine issues and he had to eject himself from the airplane and parachute to safety. It was a wild video that gained more than four million views and popularity. However many people in aviation, including myself, didn't feel right as the video gained popularity and as others dug deeper found some interesting clues that led most to believe that the story was faked.

What Happened?

YouTube/@trevorjacob

In the video Trevor is seen flying his Taylorcraft B, a high-wing light aircraft, across a unpopulated area of the Los Padres National Forest. In the video it shows the engine slowly losing power before the single prop comes to a halt. Very quickly afterwards, seemingly with no troubleshooting or attempt to restart the motor, Trevor abandons the airplane by jumping out at altitude, luckily wearing a parachute. There were additional cameras hooked up to the aircraft and we see them record as the airplane makes an impact somewhere in the National Forest.

The Controversy

When this video was published multiple aviation YouTubers started picking apart this video and had some incredibly damming evidence to suggest that the video was faked. First off, why wasn't there an attempt to radio mayday or troubleshoot the engine on the aircraft. Second, why was he so quick to bail out of the aircraft. Furthermore, why was he wearing parachute, that's not something a normal pilot would wear. And multiple people watched the video frame by frame and found that he had a fire extinguisher strapped to his leg, concealed in his pants. All the red flags were there, it was extremely obvious that this wasn't just an engine failure caught on camera but a intentional act.

On top of everything the video was "sponsored" by an internet wallet company Ridge Wallet. And some of the video was intended to show off the durability of the metal wallet. Some have alluded that this company endorsed crashing the airplane, however I don't believe as much. Instead I think it was a way to get internet famous, and push some affiliate revenue along with it. I don't necessarily the two are correlated but that still put the company in hot water being associated with this stunt.

Destroying Evidence

YouTube/@PetesGuide

Big or small, every aviation incident that is reported is investigated. Most of the time it's a minor paperwork and interview. But for something like an aircraft crash there's usually an investigation done by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) to figure out if this is a repeat problem that needs to be corrected at the manufacturer level or a one off incident. However, according to investigators, Trevor took a helicopter to the crash site and removed the aircraft and investigators claimed he destroyed evidence.

During this process Trevor's pilot's license was revoked while everything was examined and the lawsuit brought by the US Attorney's Office made its way through the court.

Prison Time & Reinstate License

A YouTuber pilot was sentenced today to six months in federal prison for obstructing a federal investigation by deliberately destroying the wreckage of an airplane that he intentionally crashed in Santa Barbara County to gain online views.

US Attorney's Office Press Release

The lawsuit concluded this last week with Trevor Jacob receiving 6 months in prison, not because he crashed his plane but because he intentionally hid evidence from investigators. So Trevor basically got time for a technicality, and still retains his pilot license for his reckless behavior.

Aviation is fun and rewarding from small sport planes all the way up to commercial airliners, however it comes with the responsibility to be safe and have a safety oriented mind set in the skies. Personally I think the public court of opinion is in the right on this one and Trevor disregarded safety for YouTube views. I strongly believe that he should not be allowed a pilots license ever again.

Why would you wear a parachute? Why do you have a fire extinguisher hidden and strapped to your leg? Why were you intentionally flying over a not very wooded area of the National Forest? Why did you immediately recover the wreckage with a helicopter and try to hide it? Why would you post such a video before investigations were complete?

The list goes on, and as someone who works in the aviation industry and has thousands of lives in my hands daily, how can you be that incredibly reckless. It actually makes me angry that he's still allowed to fly.

Safety

Photo by Calle Macarone on Unsplash

I don't care how many times I have to say it, safety is the number one priority when flying. It's not just your life, it's your passengers lives, it's anyone on the ground below you life. Deliberate stunts just to get YouTube views is not safety, it's an intentional disregard to safety. There's a reason why there have been no major loss of life commercial aviation fatalities for a decade, safety culture makes flying safe. And this should extend to private aviation as well, a culture of being safe, knowing when to say no, knowing when something may be dangerous, safety is key.

Final Thoughts

Trevor Jacob was incredibly stupid for intentionally crashing an airplane and hiding evidence from investigators. For that he now has to spend 6 months in federal prison, but he gets to retain his pilots license so maybe he gets to do it again someday. Despite what he may claim or some people's thoughts, it defiantly looks like an intentional ditching of his aircraft and all the evidence looks pretty clear.

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