A 30-year-old content creator, Trevor Jacob, has been sentenced to six months in prison for orchestrating a plane crash intentionally to generate online views and subsequently deceiving US investigators.
In December 2021, Jacob uploaded a video depicting a plane crash, presenting it as an accidental occurrence.
The footage displayed him ejecting from the plane, holding a selfie stick, and safely parachuting to the ground, accumulating millions of views. Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, admitted to filming the crash as part of a product sponsorship deal in a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to a felony count related to obstructing a federal investigation through destruction and concealment.
Federal prosecutors in California asserted that Jacob likely engaged in this act for social media attention, news coverage, and financial gain, emphasizing the intolerability of such “daredevil” behavior. In November 2021, Jacob embarked on a solo flight from a Santa Barbara airport, intending not to reach his destination but to eject from the plane mid-flight.
He recorded himself parachuting while the plane descended and eventually crashed into the Los Padres National Forest. Jacob hiked to the crash site, retrieved the footage, and uploaded the video titled “I crashed my airplane” to YouTube on December 23, incorporating a promotional segment for a wallet company.
Some viewers raised suspicions about the crash’s authenticity, noting that Jacob was already wearing a parachute and made no attempt to safely land the plane. Jacob reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board, initially claiming ignorance of the location. Later, he returned by helicopter, located and removed the wreckage, and ultimately destroyed it.
The video garnered nearly three million views before being removed. In a statement, Jacob expressed humility and acknowledged the court’s decision as the right one.