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Altitude Warning. Vlogger Who Crashed Plane for Views Stripped of Pilot’s License26.04.2022

Trevor Jacob long held that the crash was merely an unfortunate accident, while the fact that it was recorded was just a coincidence.

Trevor Jacob, snowboard cross competitor who represented the US at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, has long sought ways of drawing a bigger audience to his YouTube channel. Skateboard tricks, coaching vlogs, and extreme winter sports footage all proved appealing, but not so much as to dissuade him from reaching for more controversial measures. 

Late last year, Jacob uploaded the video “I Crashed My Plane” which showed him piloting his Taylorcraft BL-65 when suddenly the airplane’s engine failed. After he bailed out, the aircraft crashed in the Los Padres National Forest in California, while Jacob landed safely, taking only minor injuries. The dramatic footage produced the desired effect—to date, the film drew 2.2M views, while Jacob’s subscriber count shot up to 135,000. 

From the outset, the vlogger maintained that the crash was by no means premeditated and the fact that he had cameras and a selfie stick aboard was just a coincidence. After the video was released, however, the accident drew the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration, as its experts were increasingly convinced that Jacob actually staged the accident and crashed the plane deliberately to bolster his online fame. The subsequent investigation only confirmed their suspicions.

Experts declared that the crash was a publicity stunt, and the FAA issued an official letter of censure to Jacob: “You demonstrated a lack of care, judgment and responsibility by choosing to jump out of an aircraft solely so you could record the footage of the crash.” The accusation was followed by evidence collected in the course of the investigation, including the fact that Jacob abandoned the aircraft before performing any emergency procedures for mid-flight engine failure (eg. trying to restart the engine by increasing airflow around the propeller) and failed to contact local air traffic controllers. He also did not to attempt emergency landing despite being within gliding range of several locations that could have accommodated it. Further suspicion was raised by Jacob’s rushed recovery and disposal of the wreckage and the cameras that it held. 

As a result of the investigation, the US athlete and vlogger was stripped of his private pilot’s license and banned from applying for a new certificate for one year, which Jacob lamented in his most recent video. “I didn’t think that just posting a video of an adventure gone south would ruffle so many feathers. The aviation community has been pretty tough on me, so I’m thinking about quitting altogether,” he gripes to the camera. “I Crashed My Plane,” however, remains up on his channel and is likely to surge in popularity again given the conclusion of the FAA investigation.

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