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YouTuber’s plane crash stunt leads to jail time

YouTuber Trevor Jacob jumps from his plane shortly before it crashes.
YouTuber Trevor Jacob jumps from his plane shortly before it crashes. Trevor Jacob/YouTube

It was two years ago when YouTuber Trevor Jacob posted a dramatic video of his solo flight that ended with the plane crashing, though not before he jumped out of the single-engine aircraft to parachute to safety.

The video of the doomed California flight — titled I Crashed My Plane — went viral and notched up several million views.

Jacob, at the time, claimed that the aircraft had suffered engine trouble high over the Los Padres mountains. But the fact that he had a parachute on and a selfie stick in hand suggested that the whole thing may have been staged, prompting investigators to take a closer look.

It led to the former Olympic snowboarder earlier this year pleading guilty to one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation. And this week, he was jailed for six months.

After parachuting to safety, Jacob hiked to the crash site to collect video footage from the plane’s onboard cameras before informing the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of the incident a few days later.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the NTSB told Jacob to preserve the crash site for investigation, but he lied and said he didn’t know where it was. But investigators said he later returned to the site and removed the wreckage before destroying it, apparently to avoid scrutiny.

While the YouTuber had originally denied that the crash was part of an elaborate stunt, he later said in a plea agreement that he set it up as part of a product sponsorship deal for a wallet company.

Jacob “most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain,” federal prosecutors said on Monday, adding: “Nevertheless, this type of daredevil conduct cannot be tolerated.”

Jacob said in a statement that the run-in with the law had been “so humbling” and described the jail time as the “right decision.”

YouTubers always hope for a viral hit, but few take such extreme measures to make it happen. Check out this collection of some of the most-viewed videos currently on YouTube, none of which involve crashing an aircraft.

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