Trevor Jacob | Credit: Youtube

By the time Lompoc resident Trevor Jacob bailed out of his single-engine airplane on November 24, 2021, Los Padres National Forest hadn’t seen but an inch and a tenth of rain since the previous May. Pilot-less, the Taylorcraft BL-65 flew into the side of a mountain, while Jacob crunched down into chaparral with a parachute — as about three cameras captured video, one of them on his selfie-stick. On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced that Jacob, a 29-year-old YouTube personality and former Olympic snowboarder, had reached an agreement to plead guilty to destroying and concealing the wrecked plane in order to obstruct the investigation into the crash. The obstruction charge could earn him 20 years in prison.

Jacob was a pilot and a skydiver who was hoping to boost his online viewership with a video about crashing a plane — “I’m over the mountains and I have an engine-out. Ohhh ‘bleep,'” the audio records before Jacob dives out the door headfirst. He had also secured a deal to promote a wallet in the video, which he posted in December. In it, his door seems slightly ajar as he flies in what looks like a bare-bones cockpit.

The video shows Jacob taking off from Lompoc Airport in Santa Barbara County, purportedly headed for Mammoth, on a “beautiful day.” After thrashing his way through chaparral and claiming he always flies with a parachute, Jacob finds the mangled aircraft — and his video cams — in some dry brush. He moans and groans as he treks through brushy, dry creek beds. “Just as I gave up hope,” he says, “I heard the cow,” finds water, and is “rescued” by farmers at dark.

What got him in trouble with the U.S. Attorney’s Office wasn’t the potential for damage such as a fire, but his actions after being rescued. Despite being told the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board needed to investigate the wreck and wanted the coordinates, in December, Jacob — and a friend whose name is blacked out — hired a helicopter out of Paso Robles, strapped the wreck to a hoist, and had the heli take it to Rancho Sisquoc. From there, Jacob trucked it to Lompoc Airport, where he cut it up and distributed the parts to different dumpsters “with the intent to impede and obstruct federal authorities,” the plea agreement states. 

Jacob is accused of lying to the authorities “to conceal the fact that he had purposely abandoned his airplane in flight as part of his scheme to create a video to gain notoriety and to make money.”

Jacob lost his pilot’s license in April 2022, and a condition of probation is that he is prohibited from applying for another one. He will be meeting with probation in the coming days, and his sentencing is months off, said Ciaran McEvoy, spokesperson for the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney’s Office. It will be up to his judge to determine Jacob’s sentence.


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