The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is revoking the pilot license of YouTuber Trevor Jacob, following his very public stunt last year.
It was a video that made aviation experts and other aviation Youtubers wince. The FAA in the United States had previously taken issue with Youtuber videos when they showed things the agency didn’t like. But this was several orders of magnitude more serious. So it made YouTubers angry because this can only make the agency more strict with others in the future.
Trevor Jacob posted a video (that we are not linking to) just before Christmas last year. He apparently recorded it on the 24th of November, supposedly on a trip towards Mammoth Lakes (KMMH), in California. This is perhaps the first problem with the video since Jacob has listed Mammoth Lakes as the aircraft’s home airport.
But it’s certainly not the only problem. Trevor Jacob claims that he had an engine failure and that it was impossible for this lightweight taildragger to land anywhere. As luck would have it, he was wearing a full parachuting rig – NOT an emergency chute. So he opened his door (which might have been opened earlier) and jumped clear. Needless to say the aircraft, a Taylorcraft BL-65 (N29508) was a complete loss.
A Few Problems…
Obviously, there is plenty to unpick in his video. According to reports, he’d recently purchased this aircraft (that he hadn’t featured before in a video). And he was reportedly seen working on it, despite not being an A&P mechanic. Some opine that the plane has a Continental engine in the video, crudely repainted to look like a Lycoming O-145. There is also a spurious fuel selector switch, not connected to a fuel tank.
These points, plus one or two fire extinguishers that Trevor Jacob appears to have in his trouser legs, have raised some eyebrows. The FAA and NTSB have both taken an interest in this case. Other reports suggested that once he realized that people would want to examine the crash, Jacob went to great expense to recover and destroy the aircraft. The FAA confirmed that this was, indeed, what he did.
At no point in the video does the pilot attempt to explain the engine failure. He had set up at least five cameras on the plane for this flight. But at no time in the video does he show his instruments or switches. That’s even though one of those cameras faces forward, behind the seats. Fortunately, there was no post-crash fire. This is quite fortunate, since the small fire extinguishers that Trevor Jacob carried, would almost certainly fail to handle a fuel-fed fire in dry brush.
FAA Calls Out Trevor Jacob
It appears that the FAA has decided that Jacob staged this crash. The agency cannot prosecute the pilot for his actions. But it can revoke his pilot license, which it appears to have done. It isn’t clear if Trevor Jacob has physically surrendered his license. But the FAA threatened further legal action if he doesn’t. The agency could charge Jacob an extra $1,644 per day until he hands it over.
In a letter to Trevor Jacob, the FAA pointed out a lot of the discrepancies in his video, including his lack of any attempt to restart the engine or look for a place to land. The agency concluded:
“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.”
But this is probably not the end of this sad story. Unlike the FAA, other agencies could still prosecute the pilot. If other agencies agree with the FAA’s assessment of the event, Jacob could face prosecution from authorities in California. The site of the crash is a protected nature reserve, that the pilot potentially risked destroying in a fire.
Trevor Jacob represented his country in the Winter Olympics, as a snowboarder. He has since embarked on other thrill-seeking activities, recording his exploits – including occasional run-ins with authorities. He quickly turned off the comments on his crash video.
For a breakdown of what his video is about, check out the MentourPilot video, below.