In the latest proof that satire is no match for today’s reality, The DOJ announced that a YouTuber pled guilty on Wednesday to obstructing a federal investigation by destroying the wreckage of an airplane he intentionally crashed for views and sponsorship money. Trevor Jacob, a 29-year-old former pro snowboarder turned YouTuber, recorded and uploaded his staged (yet very real) crash landing in Santa Barbara County, CA, in November 2021.
Jacob pled guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, as first reported by Gizmodo. He admitted in his plea agreement that his motive was profiting from a wallet promotion attached to the video.
Before taking flight, Jacob equipped the plane with video cameras while arming himself with a parachute, video camera and selfie stick. He ejected himself from the aircraft about 35 minutes into the flight, recording himself parachuting to the ground as the plane crashed into a dry brush area in Los Padres National Forest. (A dry brush area in wildfire country sounds like a terrific place to send an aircraft to its fiery demise.) He then hiked to the crash scene to recover his cameras and recordings.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of Jacob’s wallet-shilling shenanigans. He then waited two days to report the incident to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); in the report, he incorrectly described it as an accident. Then, after the NTSB told him he was responsible for preserving the wreckage for examination, he returned to the crash scene by helicopter, which he used to airlift the wreckage to a local vineyard and winery. There, he loaded it onto a trailer attached to his pickup truck and hauled it to Lompoc City Airport, where he cut the plane’s remains into pieces, dumping them into nearby trash bins. Around this time, he lied to investigators, telling them he didn’t know where the wreckage was.
Still wanting to ensure the wallet sponsorship money made its way to his wallet, Jacob uploaded the YouTube video “I Crashed My Airplane” on December 23rd, 2021. The video is still up and has tallied 3.3 million views. During a clip of his long hike back to civilization after the landing, Jacob says, “I’m so past the point of even saying I’m exhausted… but I saw a cow.”