An Olympic snowboarder who deliberately crashed his single-propeller plane on a flight from Lompoc to Mammoth Lakes to gain viewers for his YouTube channel was sentenced to six months in federal prison for obstruction of justice.
Trevor Jacob, 30, of Lompoc, pleaded guilty to one count of “destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation” on June 30, admitting to destroying the wreckage of an airplane he intentionally crashed as a stunt to bolster his social media profile, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.
An experienced pilot, Jacob said he planned to fly solo on Nov. 24, 2021, from Lompoc City Airport to Mammoth Lakes. Investigators said Jacob never intended to reach his destination but instead planned to eject himself during the flight and record himself parachuting to the ground as his plane descended and crashed.
He documented the ordeal and later uploaded the video titled “I Crashed My Airplane” to YouTube. The footage drew the ire of commenters and social media, reaching 3 million views before Jacob set the video to private.
Around three minutes into the video, while flying above Los Padres National Forest, the plane’s propeller stopped. Jacobs opened the door while shouting expletives and saying his engine was out. He then ejected from the airplane and recorded his descent to the ground.
Before the flight, Jacob mounted several cameras on the airplane — one pointed at the propeller— and equipped himself with a parachute, video camera and selfie stick. He was able to record the aircraft’s crash into dry brush in the forest. After safely parachuting, he hiked to the wreckage and recovered data containing the recording of the flight and crash.
Two days later, Jacob informed the National Transportation Safety Board about the crash, prompting an investigation by the board, which notified Jacob that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage for further examination. Three days later, the Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation.
In the weeks following the plane crash, Jacob lied to investigators about not knowing the wreckage’s location. But on Dec. 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the site, where the plane was secured and carried the remains to Santa Barbara County.
Jacob drove back to Lompoc City Airport with the remnants in his possession in an attempt to obstruct federal investigations, according to investigators. Jacob proceeded to unload the plane in a hanger, cutting up and destroying evidence over several days and placing the parts into trash bins at the airport, investigators said.
“It appears that [Jacob] exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “[Jacob] most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain. Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated.”