YouTuber and former Olympian Trevor Jacob has lost his pilot license following a Federal Aviation Administration investigation into his plane crash. Jacob is found to have intentionally crashed his plane and may face further legal challenges going forward.
On December 23, 2021 Trevor Jacob uploaded a video titled I Crashed My Plane. Jacob, a former U.S. Olympic Team snowboarder, said that he hopped into his 1940 Taylorcraft BL-65 to spread the ashes of his late best friend. The November 24 flight departed Lompoc City Airport in Santa Barbara destined for Mammoth Lakes, California. However, the plane would instead crash into a mountain range, never reaching its destination.
Immediately following the crash, other pilots and aviation experts immediately began picking apart the incident.
Jacob did a lot of things that most pilots just don’t do when flying, like wear a parachute on his back and a pair of fire extinguishers strapped to his pant legs. He also failed to do what pilots learn early on in their training such as scan for a safe place to land, set the plane for its best glide, or even try to restart the engine. He jumped from the aircraft when it had plenty of altitude to work with.
This is on top of the video appearing to show Jacob opening the cockpit door before the engine even failed.
The Federal Aviation Administration — in a letter obtained by the New York Times — agreed with a lot of what other pilots found:
The F.A.A. agreed about the parachute in its letter, which it released in response to a request from The New York Times, and pointed out other revealing details that officials had uncovered during an investigation.
“During this flight, you opened the left side pilot door before you claimed the engine had failed,” the F.A.A. wrote.
Before jumping out of the plane, the agency said, Mr. Jacob made no attempt to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency, did not try to restart the engine by increasing airflow over the propeller and failed to look for a place to safely land, “even though there were multiple areas within gliding range in which you could have made a safe landing.”
After the crash, Mr. Jacob also “recovered and then disposed of the wreckage,” the F.A.A. said.
When the New York Times emailed Jacob about the letter, he responded by asking them how they got the information.
As we’ve noted before when an unruly passenger disrupts a flight, the FAA does not have the power to prosecute people who do reckless stunts with planes. Thus, Jacob will only lose his private pilot certificate. A license revocation lasts just one year, so Jacob will be able to reapply for his licenses after 12 months. And in the meantime, he could still fly an ultralight.
That said, this may not be the end of Jacob’s troubles. The FAA’s findings could be used by other government entities such as the State of California and the Department of Transportation for fines or more. The New York times reached out to the DOT and at this time it does not confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.