The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has demanded that YouTuber Trevor Jacob turn over his pilot license after he posted a video called “I Crashed My Plane,” of a crash that the agency suggests was staged, as reported by The New York Times. In the video (which you can watch here), Jacob’s plane appears to have an engine malfunction, and he jumps out of it while wearing a parachute. In a letter, the regulator told Jacob that he “demonstrated a lack of care, judgment and responsibility by choosing to jump out of an aircraft” and said that Jacob “operated this flight to purposefully cause [the plane] to crash.”
Jacob posted the video in December, and it already has more than 1.7 million views. Like several members of the flying community, the FAA expressed doubts about Jacob’s choices during the incident. The letter takes issue with the fact that he didn’t try to restart the engine properly, contact air traffic control for support, or look for an alternative place to land despite there being plenty of options available. Basically, the agency says, he didn’t try to save the plane before jumping out of it.
The regulator also appears to call into question whether the engine failure was genuine, noting that Jacob appeared to open the door before the propeller even started slowing down in the video. As Flying magazine points out, Jacob typically doesn’t wear a parachute while flying, despite claiming that he does in the “I Crashed My Plane” video. With that said, it doesn’t sound like the plane was in great shape. Jalopnik cites reports that it was in a “state of disrepair and in need of major maintenance” and that Jacob tried to fix it himself. The aircraft is, or was, a vintage model from 1940, so it’s definitely possible that it had engine troubles.
Jacob has long been into extreme sports, according to his Team USA bio page. (He snowboarded in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.) He’s also no stranger to YouTube fame. His channel has a video from 2013 called “Train Horn Prank. Arrested?” with nearly 7 million views. He also has several videos showing himself skydiving.
According to the Times, when asked about the FAA letter — which tells him to turn in his pilot license or face daily fines of more than $1,000, Jacob seemed surprised. He responded, “Where’d you get that information” and then reportedly stopped replying to emails.