A YouTuber who posted a video of himself crashing a small plane in California in November 2021 has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge.
Trevor Daniel Jacob, a 29-year-old “pilot YouTuber” from Lompoc, California, has agreed to plead guilty to one charge of destroying and concealing with intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which is punishable by up to 20 years in jail, the US Department of Justice said.
On November 24, 2021, Jacob took off from a Lompoc airport on a solo flight in a Taylorcraft BL-65 presumably destined for Mammoth Lakes, California.
However, after flying for 35 minutes, Jacob jumped out of the plane while flying over a forest and filmed himself parachuting to the ground and his plane crashing.
After landing, Jacob recovered data from the plane that appeared to show him descending to the ground and later recovered the wreckage, which he then destroyed, according to the Justice Department.
Jacob, an experienced pilot, skydiver and former Olympic snowboarder, posted a video on YouTube a month after the crash.
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According to court documents, Jacob has now admitted to intentionally crashing the plane. Before the flight, he had mounted several cameras on different parts of the plane and was wearing a parachute, which is highly unusual for a small plane pilot.
He initially agreed to help determine the location of the crash and provide coordinates of the downed plane and video of the crash to National Transportation Safety Board investigators, but then told them he did not know the location of the wreckage, according to the plea deal.
The US attorney’s office said in a statement that Jacob is expected to appear in court in the coming weeks.
A version of his video, titled “I Crashed My Airplane”, remains on YouTube and has had nearly three million views.
The Federal Aviation Administration revoked Jacob’s pilot license in April 2022, saying he “demonstrated a lack of care, judgment and responsibility.”
A lawyer for Jacob did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Reuters news agency.