A YouTuber’s Plane Crash Draws Doubts From Aviation Experts

The Four Percent


The YouTube video with the attention-grabbing title “I Crashed My Plane” begins with Trevor Jacob piloting a small aircraft with several cameras attached, showing off sweeping views of sepia and green above the Los Padres National Forest in Southern California.

Then the propeller stops spinning. Mr. Jacob unleashes a flurry of expletives, opens the door and jumps out with a parachute, abandoning the plane as he descends toward the forest, a selfie stick in hand to record it all.

“I’m just so happy to be alive,” he says after landing in prickly brush, documenting his hike through the forest, which, he says in the video, lasted at least six hours until a farmer found him at dusk. Earlier, he had found the wrecked, mangled plane in a thicket of dried shrubs.

Almost immediately, however, viewers and aviation experts expressed doubts online over his portrayal of the Nov. 24 crash. It was orchestrated, they claimed, for views and likes, and several steps Mr. Jacob took, such as wearing a parachute in the first place, were evidence of a preconceived publicity stunt.

“He could have landed even though he was over mountainous terrain,” Mr. Perry said. “He was at a high enough altitude from the video that he could’ve glided 15 miles into some meadow somewhere, or road, and put it down normally.”

Timothy Loranger, an aviation lawyer based in Los Angeles, said on Saturday that the video was “all very convenient” and questionable.

The propeller stopping? That would happen only if Mr. Jacob pulled back the control and slowed the aircraft, creating a “dramatic effect,” Mr. Loranger said. That there was no visible attempt to restart the engine and that Mr. Jacob is not heard calling air-traffic control? Those were the actions of someone seemingly not in actual danger, he said.

“He didn’t do any of those things that I think even a basically trained new pilot would do,” Mr. Loranger said.

After the National Transportation Safety Board finds a cause for the crash, Mr. Loranger said, the F.A.A. will likely try to determine “whether the pilot acted appropriately or did something that violated the regulation.”

The video, Mr. Loranger said, still angers pilots.

“No reasonable person flies an airplane with the intention of jumping out of it and allowing the aircraft to just fly off in the distance,” he said. “It just goes against everything that a pilot stands for. Safety is absolutely paramount.”


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