YouTuber pilot Trevor Jacob pleads guilty after admitting to crashing plane for video views

Federal authorities said YouTube pilot Trevor Jacob confessed to intentionally destroying the wreckage of a plane he deliberately crashed in Santa Barbara County to gain views on social media and now, he has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge. 

RELATED: YouTube influencer intentionally crashed plane in California: FAA

A press release from the US Justice Department said the 29-year-old from Lompoc agreed to plead guilty to the federal charge of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Jacob said he planned the crash to promote a wallet with a company he had a sponsorship deal with. 

On Nov. 26, 2021, Jacob took a solo flight from the Lompoc City Airport destined for Mammoth Lakes, but he never reached his reported destination. Instead, federal officials said he ditched his plane and ejected himself from the aircraft. Before the flight, investigators said he mounted multiple video cameras on the plane and equipped himself with a parachute, video camera and a selfie stick.

That same day, he informed the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about a plane crash, which immediately prompted an investigation. Jacob was told it was his responsibility to preserve the wreckage and that he would provide the coordinates of the crash location.  

Officials said on Dec. 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew to the site to collect the wreckage and later loaded it onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck. Federal investigators said he then took the wreckage to the Lompoc City Airport where he cut up, destroyed, and threw the evidence into trash bins over the course of a few days, "which he admitted in his plea agreement was done with the intent to construct federal authorities from investigation the November 24 plane crash." 

According to the plea agreement, federal investigators said he lied and said he was unaware of the wreckage’s location. He also confessed to lying about the aircraft experiencing a full loss of power about 35 minutes after takeoff when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report. 

The video "I Crashed My Airplane" was posted on Dec. 23, 2021, and has since garnered 3.2 million views on YouTube.

Jacob’s pilot license was removed by the FAA in April 2022.

The plea agreement was filed in a United States District Court in Los Angeles and Jacob is expected to make his first court appearance in the coming weeks.