A daredevil YouTuber ditched his plane mid-air and parachuted to safety last year as part of a publicity stunt – claiming it was all a terrifying accident for a few million views, according to Federal Aviation Administration.
Trevor Jacob uploaded what he claimed was a death-defying parachute escape from his plane before it crashed in California’s Los Padres National Forest when the propeller allegedly stopped working during a flight November 24.
On April 11, the FAA told Jacob he was prohibited from flying for operating the single-engine aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of others,” according to a letter obtained by The New York Times.
“You showed a lack of care, judgment and responsibility in choosing to jump out of an aircraft only to be able to record footage of the crash,” the agency said. “Your flagrant and intentional actions on these dates indicate that you currently lack the degree of care, judgment and responsibility required of a certificate holder.”
Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, said in a video update to his more than 134,000 followers that he would not respond to the controversy, “per my attorney”. It was his first uploaded video from the plane crash video.
“But the truth about this situation will come out in time,” he added, “and I’ll leave it at that.”
In the original video, which was uploaded to YouTube on December 24, Jacob appears to panic mid-flight as his engine stops working.
“Holy shit. I’m over the mountains and I have a broken engine,” he says after the propeller appears to stop spinning in the 13-minute video titled “I Crashed My Plane.” which garnered over 2 million views.
The video shows Jacob opening his door to observe the rugged landscape as the plane glides by.
Suddenly he jumps out of the plane, footage of an airplane wing shows him. The video shows Jacob filming himself with a stack of rapidly free-falling selfies before returning to the plane – now unmanned – as it begins to turn on its own accelerated trajectory.
Jacob hits the ground hard in the desert, landing in bushes, video shows. About 20 minutes later, according to the clip, Jacob documents a few small cuts he received on his fingers and elbow from the landing.
“I’m so happy to be alive. I’m just figuring out what happened,” he said.
“That’s why I always fly with a parachute.”
Later in the video, he located the mangled aircraft, which appears to be beyond repair.
“Thank you, higher power, for watching over me,” he said before leaving to seek help. According to the video, Jacob wandered for six hours before finding a local farmer.
Immediately after posting the video, viewers and aviation experts doubted the validity of the crash, according to The New York Times, prompting Jacob to turn off comments on the video.
In their letter, the FAA claimed he made no effort to contact air traffic control and never tried to restart the engine or look for a place to land safely.
After the accident, Jacob also “recovered and then disposed of the wreckage”, the agency said.
According to the Times, the FAA has no authority to prosecute Jacob, only to revoke his private pilot certificate. He could face a civil fine of $1,644 for each day he refuses to return it.
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