TL;DR: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials revoked YouTuber Trevor Jacob’s pilot license on Thursday. The FAA accused the former Olympic snowboarder of intentionally crashing his plane in California’s Los Padres National Forrest. The penalty comes after a months-long investigation into the crash last November.
The Administration contacted Jacob via snail mail on April 11, stating that its investigation found that he was operating his plane in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.” The New York Times notes that officials pointed to several factors leading them to believe Jacob staged the stunt. For example, he never attempted to contact air traffic control on emergency channels and was already wearing his chute before the engine stalled.
The FAA’s letter also demanded that he turn in his pilot license. Jacob claimed he had no knowledge of the letter from the FAA. His attorney advised him to refrain from further comment.
“The truth of that situation will come out with time, and I’ll leave that at that,” he said.
The FAA’s revocation was effective on April 11. It is unclear if Jacob has complied and surrendered his license. Not doing so could result in legal enforcement action and fines of up to $1,644 per day until he turns it over.
According to Jacob’s documented account (above), which he posted to YouTube, he was heading to Mammoth, California, when his 1940 Taylorcraft two-seater malfunctioned, losing power to the engine. The plane was over rough mountain terrain with no place to safely perform an emergency landing when the prop cut out. Jacob claims that he always flew with a parachute and decided his only option was to bail.
The plane went down into some brush and trees on the side of the mountain, destroying the aircraft but not much else. Shortly afterward, Jacob landed in the middle of some thick dead brambles not far from his plane, suffering minor cuts and scrapes.
After hiking to his aircraft to assess the damage, he began climbing down the mountain with no water, documenting the descent every 45 minutes to an hour. Jacob claims he hiked for about five hours before he “lost hope” and was ready to give up. However, hearing a cow in the distance renewed his energy but not his thirst.
As dusk arrived, Jacob began to feel the effects of dehydration but kept walking along a dry river bed. He eventually found a small stream just as night fell. Shortly after quenching his thirst, he heard a car and flagged down two farmers who were able to take him to safety.
Whether his story and video were real or just a stunt to get views on YouTube is up to him to prove to the FAA. It does appear to be a lot to give up and endure just for more internet popularity. However, people have done far dumber things just to get views on YouTube.