Lompoc pilot sentenced to federal prison for intentionally crashing plane in Santa Barbara County
A Central Coast-based YouTuber pilot was sentenced to six months in federal prison for deliberately crashing a plane in Santa Barbara County and obstructing the subsequent federal investigation, the U.S. attorney’s office announced.
Trevor Daniel Jacob of Lompoc, an experienced pilot, skydiver and former Olympic athlete, was sentenced to prison by United States District Judge John F. Walter on Dec. 4.
Federal investigators found that the 30-year-old intentionally crashed his plane in 2021 at Los Padres National Forest in an effort to gain more online views and, as a result, more money from the YouTube video.
“It appears that [Jacob] exercised exceptionally poor judgment in committing this offense,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum.
“[Jacob] most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain. Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated.”
According to federal investigators, Jacob took off from his airplane from Lompoc City Airport with the intent to fly to Mammoth Lakes on Nov. 24, 2021, but he never reached the destination, instead opting to eject from his aircraft during the flight and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed.
This happened about 35 minutes after taking off while flying above the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Maria.
After parachuting to the ground, Jacob hiked to the location of the wreck and recovered the data containing the video recording of his flight and the crash of the airplane, federal investigators found.
On Nov. 26, 2021, Jacob informed the National Transportation Safety Board about the plane crash, which launched an investigation into the crash on or about the same day. Three days later, the Federal Aviation Administration launched their own investigation into the plane crash.
In the following weeks, they found that Jacob lied to investigators that he did not know the wreckage’s location, according to the report.
According to investigators, he and a friend actually visited the wreckage site on Dec. 10, 2021 via helicopter and, once there, Jacob used straps to secure the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck.
Jacob then drove the wreckage to Lompoc City Airport and unloaded it in a hangar.
He then cut up and destroyed the airplane wreckage and, over the course of a few days, deposited the detached parts of the wrecked airplane into trash bins at the airport and elsewhere, according to the report.
This was done with the intent to obstruct federal authorities from investigating the November 24 plane crash, federal investigators said.
The YouTuber then uploaded a video on Dec. 23, 2021 titled “I Crashed My Airplane” that contained a brand deal promoting a waller and showed him parachuting from the plane and the aircraft’s subsequent crash.
Investigators concluded that Jacob intended to make money through the video.
Moreover, Jacob lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power approximately 35 minutes after takeoff, according to the report.
He also lied to an FAA aviation safety inspector when he said the airplane’s engine had quit and, because he could not identify any safe landing options, he had parachuted out of the plane, according to the report.
Jacob pleaded guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation on June 30 with his sentence being handed down Dec. 4.
The case was investigated by The United States Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General with the NTSB and FAA providing assistance.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Dominique Caamano and Dennis Mitchell of the Environmental Crimes and Consumer Protection Section.