Trevor Jacob, a YouTube influencer, was sentenced to six months in federal prison on Dec. 4 for obstructing an investigation. Jacob’s sentencing came after he pled guilty in June to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. A plea deal was reached which helped Jacpn avoid a prison sentence of up to twenty years.
The sentencing is related to the 2021 crash of a small plane in the Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara County. Trevor, 30, an experienced pilot and skydiver, posted a YouTube video titled, “I Crashed My Airplane,” in which the plane appeared to suffer an engine failure mid-flight. Jacob parachuted from the plane, recording himself with a selfie stick, as well as with cameras mounted on the wings and tail of the plane. After parachuting safely to the ground, Jacob hiked to the crash site to recover video from the plane’s cameras.
Jacob failed to report the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board for two days after recovering the footage. They instructed him to locate and preserve the wreckage pending official investigation, and the Federal Aviation Administration began to investigate shortly thereafter. Jacob then informed federal authorities that he could not locate the wreckage.
With the help of a friend, Jacob flew to the wreckage site by helicopter on Dec. 10, 2021. They used the helicopter to transport all crash debris to a nearby trailer attached to a truck, then took the wreckage back to an airport hangar. Concealed inside the hangar, Jacob painstakingly cut up the plane’s wreckage. It was then dispersed across various trash bins.
In addition to concealing the location of the wreckage and destroying it to avoid investigation, Jacob also lied on an official accident incident report that the plane suffered full power loss thirty-five minutes after takeoff. He also lied to an FAA aviation safety inspector, claiming that the plane’s engine had failed and that he had parachuted only because he could not identify safe landing options.
It has since become known that Jacob’s stunt was part of a sponsorship deal involving the promotion of a wallet during his YouTube video. Jacob, who had his pilot license revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2022, had entered a flight plan from Lompoc City Airport to Mammoth Lakes, but never intended to complete his flight.
Federal prosecutors stated that Jacob had, “Exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense,” and that he, “most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain.”
In a sentencing memo in which the defense argued that Jacob be sentenced to one year of probation. His attorneys claimed that, “This offense has already been a wake-up call, and he has and will continue to suffer collateral consequences.” Due to this situation, Jacob, who represented the United States in snowboarding during the 2014 Winter Olympics, is not expected to train with the U.S. Olympic team during the coming year.