A YouTuber who staged a plane crash so he could make a video of himself parachuting to safety has been jailed for six months after he lied about the incident to US investigators.
Trevor Jacob, 30, an experienced pilot and skydiver, pleaded guilty in June to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.
He “most likely committed this offence to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain”, federal prosecutors said.
His video, titled “I Crashed My Airplane”, made public on Dec 23 2021, showed Jacob’s small plane suffering an engine failure over the mountainous Los Padres National Forest in California 35 minutes after takeoff.
Already wearing a parachute, he jumped out of the aircraft holding a camera attached to a selfie stick.
Jacob captured his escape and the aircraft’s subsequent plunge to the ground using the handheld device, and other cameras mounted on the plane’s wing and tail.
After landing, he hiked to the crash site and recovered video from the onboard cameras, the US Justice Department said.
According to his plea agreement, Jacob had a sponsorship deal to promote a company’s product in a video he would post and had never intended to complete the flight on Nov 24 2021. Instead, he had planned to crash the aircraft and eject from it.
His upload of the video to YouTube of that year contained a promotion for a wallet company, prosecutors said. The video racked up almost three million views before it was taken down.
The Justice Department said Jacob later informed federal investigators about the crash, that he was responsible for preserving the wreckage, and agreed to determine its location. But he then lied that he did not know the location.
On Dec 10 2021, Jacob and a friend flew to the site in a helicopter that was used to lift the wreckage and fly it to a trailer attached to his pickup truck, according to the plea agreement.
The plane was later cut up and the parts were disposed of in trash bins.
Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, had his pilot license revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2022.
In a statement, he said that “this experience has been so humbling” and described his sentencing as the “right decision”.