A YouTuber has been jailed for six months for deliberately crashing his plane for views, and then lying about it to US investigators.
Trevor Jacob, 30, posted the video of the plane crash in December 2021, implying it was an accident. He ejected from the plane – selfie stick in hand – and parachuted down to land.
The clip was viewed millions of times.
In a plea agreement, Jacob said he filmed the video as part of a product sponsorship deal.
The former Olympic snowboarder pleaded guilty earlier this year to one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.
Jacob “most likely committed this offence to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain”, federal prosecutors in California said on Monday.
“Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated,” they added.
In a statement, Jacob said that “this experience has been so humbling” and described the sentence as the “right decision”.Media caption,
In November 2021, Jacob left a Santa Barbara, California, airport on a solo flight with cameras mounted on his plane. Along with the cameras, Jacob took a parachute with him, as well as a selfie stick.
He “did not intend to reach his destination, but instead planned to eject from his aircraft during the flight and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed”, the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.
The plane crashed into the Los Padres National Forest 35 minutes after take-off. Jacob hiked to the site and recovered the footage.
He then uploaded the video entitled “I crashed my airplane” to YouTube on 23 December, which contained a promotion for a wallet company, prosecutors said.
Some viewers were sceptical of the crash, noting that Jacob was already wearing a parachute and made no attempt to land the plane safely.
He reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board, who said he was responsible for preserving the wreckage. Jacob later claimed he did not know the location of the site.
He did, and returned by helicopter and secured and removed the wreckage, which he later destroyed, the plea agreement states.
The video racked up almost three million views before it was removed.