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A daredevil pilot has recently landed in hot water with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a dangerous stunt that involved bailing out of a crashing plane – and filming it all for YouTube.
Trevor Jacob uploaded a video to YouTube on December 23rd, 2021, which showed him jumping out of his small single-engine aircraft over the Los Padres National Forest in California.
In the video, Jacob claims to have lost an engine, and the propeller is seen stopping as he exclaims that “I’m over the mountains and I have an engine out.” Jacob then takes some footage with a selfie stick, before leaping out of the plane. The video has clips from multiple angles from cameras still attached to the plane as it crashes into a hillside, while Jacob shows off his cuts and scratches from a camera carried on him.
Afterwards, Jacob is shown saying “I’m just so happy to be alive. I’m just kind of taking in what happened. That’s why I always freaking fly with a parachute.” He locates his wrecked plane, which fortunately did not start any bush fires, before saying “Thank you higher power for watching over me.” Jacob then goes off to find help, which he says took him six hours, after which he found a farmer who took him in and rendered aid.
The video has 22,000 “likes,” but probably none from the FAA, which condemned the entire thing as a pre-planned publicity stunt. On April 11th, the FAA banned Jacob from flying, citing his usage of the aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another,” according to a letter that was obtained by the New York Times.
“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. Your egregious and intentional actions on these dates indicate that you presently lack the degree of care, judgment and responsibility required of a certificate holder,” the letter from the FAA continued.
The FAA letter goes on to assert that Jacob wildly deviated from protocol, and made no attempt to contact air traffic control, restart the engine, or try to find a place to safely glide to a landing. In addition, the FAA said that Jacob “recovered and then disposed of the wreckage,” which presumably would interfere with attempts to investigate the causes of the engine failure.
The New York Times stated in its piece that the FAA does not have the authority to actually prosecute Jacob, but can revoke his private pilot certificate, which would lead to a fine of $1,644 for each day he fails to relinquish it. The Times also noted that a broad spectrum of aviation professionals and casual viewers of the video doubted the legitimacy of the accident, and there have been widespread allegations that it was simply a publicity stunt for clicks and shares on YouTube.
Jacob himself posted a video update but the former Olympic snowboarder simply stated that “the truth of that situation will come out with time, and I’ll leave that at that,” and declined to go into further detail on advice from his lawyer.
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