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A daredevil YouTuber abandoned his plane mid-flight and parachuted to safety last year as a publicity stunt — pretending that it was all a terrifying accident for a few million views, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Trevor Jacob uploaded what he purported to be a death-defying parachute escape from his airplane before it crashed in the Los Padres National Forest in California when the propeller allegedly stopped working during a flight on Nov. 24.
On April 11, the FAA told Jacob he is banned from flying for operating the single-engine aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another,” according to a letter 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,” the agency said. “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.”
Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, said in a video update to his over 134,000 subscribers that he would not address the controversy, “per my attorney.” It was his first video uploaded since the plane crash video.
“But the truth of that situation will come out with time,” he added, “and I’ll leave that at that.”
In the original video, which was uploaded to YouTube on Dec. 24, Jacob seems to panic mid-flight as his engine stops working.
“Holy s–t. I’m over the mountains and I have an engine out,” he says after the propeller appears to stop spinning in the 13-minute video titled “I Crashed My Plane,” which has garnered over 2 million views.
Video shows Jacob opening his door to peer down over the rugged landscape as the plane glides along.
Suddenly, he jumps out of the plane, footage from a plane wing shows. The video cuts to Jacob filming himself with a selfie stack rapidly free-falling before panning back to the plane — now without a pilot – as it begins to veer on its own crash course.
Jacob hits the ground hard in the wilderness, landing in some bushes, video shows. About 20 minutes later, according to the clip, Jacob documents some small cuts he received on his fingers and elbow from the landing.
“I’m just so happy to be alive. I’m just kind of taking in what happened,” he says.
“That’s why I always freaking fly with a parachute.”
Later in the video, he located the mangled plane, which appears totaled beyond repair.
“Thank you higher power for watching over me,” he says, before taking off looking for help. According to the video, Jacob wandered for six hours before he found a local farmer.
Immediately after he posted the video, viewers end aviation experts doubted the validity of the accident, according to the New York Times, prompting Jacob to turn off comments on the video.
In their letter, the FAA claimed that he made no effort to contact air traffic control and never tried to restart the engine or look for a place to safely land.
After the crash, Jacob also “recovered and then disposed of the wreckage,” the agency said.
According to The Times, the FAA does not have the authority to prosecute Jacob, only to revoke his private pilot certificate. He could face a civil penalty of $1,644 for each day he refuses to return it.