The FAA has confirmed it’s investigating the circumstances of a video purporting to show the November crash of a 1940 Taylorcraft posted by YouTuber Trevor Jacob. “The FAA is investigating this event,” the agency said in a statement issued Monday. “The agency does not discuss open investigations.”  The video prompted an explosive and generally harsh reaction from commenters on YouTube and on various forums. Many are calling for an investigation into the production of the video; a few are calling it fake. And plenty have analyzed it frame by frame to support their accusations about its authenticity.

Jacob, whose YouTube channel says he has 126,000 subscribers, has not responded to an email request for comment. We also contacted a woman with a similar name and address to those of the registered owner of the aircraft but have received no response.

In the 17-minute video, shot Nov. 24 but posted a month later, Jacob says he’s flying to Mammoth to spread the ashes of a friend. He apparently took off from Lompoc Airport and the crash was reported to have taken place in Los Padres National Forest near Cayuma, California, about 50 miles north of Santa Barbara. There is commentary on the weather and reference to his deceased friend but no description of the circumstances of the alleged engine failure. Video from three angles show him straining to open the door before diving headfirst behind the strut, never letting go of a selfie stick. The cameras also cover what appears to be a crash sequence.

After landing in some scrub brush with a few cuts and scrapes, he makes his way to a crashed aircraft, with the camera still rolling. There’s more of him hiking out and finally running into other people. The video ends with him climbing a mountain days later to launch a paraglider to finally spread the ashes of his friend. By Monday, the video had attracted almost 100,000 views.

57 COMMENTS

    • When I see something happen that doesn’t make sense, my mind produces questions. Since part of flying for me is scanning the engine instruments, they often foretell engine failure, e.g, loss of engine oil pressure and rising CHTs or engine temperatures. In that case, don’t we take the stress off the engine before it fails, contact ATC and search for a off-field landing site? In any case, don’t we run through the “Engine failure in flight” checklist? Does the prop quickly stop in an engine failure, or just windmill? What about squawking 7700 and making a “Mayday” call? Was this airplane in trim and, at engine failure, wouldn’t it go into a falling, leveling, falling rhythm at trimmed airspeed? Or might it go into a tight spiral dive? Who among us flies over hills or mountainous country without constantly updating off-field landing sites? Don’t we track above roads for just that purpose? And what about abandoning an aircraft above a fire-prone landscape? Were the magnetos still “hot” and could spark a fire on impact? For me, questions are always more evident than answers.

      • All good questions IMO. I was primed for suspicion (and suppressing that suspicion) before watching the vid. The chronology wasn’t completely clear but it was hard watching him pull back on the controls instead of trimming for best glide or turning back towards the lower ground behind or working the problem. The river bed below him when under canopy looked like a decent place to park an aircraft. Or a parachute.

        I wish every seat in light aircraft had an emergency chute but the human factors would need significant work. Reticence vs over-enthusiasm?

    • I find it highly improbable someone wears a skydiving rig as a matter of course when flying in a light plane. In my random-sample-of-one, I find my rig is too bulky and uncomfortable in that scenario (look how bunched up he is against the yoke). A true emergency/bail-out rig is much slimmer and lighter because it only has one parachute, not two. And only one, well-protected handle to open the parachute. No extra hardware or weight or bulk for the main or release mechanism. If I was really interested in wearing a parachute ‘just in case’ while flying a plane, I’d buy a used bail-out rig.

      But, if you’re going to stage an accident, why spend the money? Just use your regular skydiving rig and squeeze yourself like a sausage into the cockpit. And it’s better to have two parachutes just in case this ‘fun jump’ goes wrong. Might as well climb real high so you have plenty of free-fall time to enjoy as well. I’m surprised he wan’t wearing goggles but even he might’ve realized that would be *too* suspicious.

      I suspect this was an attention-getting stunt, financed with insurance fraud by wrecking the aircraft. Just like these yahoos:
      http://www.avweb.com/ownership/pilot-pleads-guilty-to-intentional-ditching/

      And lest you think nobody would be this stupid to do something so dangerous just for internet fame, let’s not forget this intrepid duo:
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43410816

  1. I’ll call BS. He has lots of altitude and lots of places to land in perfect daylight conditions in a plane made for landing slow. Who bails out when conditions are perfect for landing safely… and with a selfie stick?

  2. The selfie-stick says it all: his videos are sponsored – he makes money from them. I wonder if The Ridge Wallet will continue to sponsor his videos? That looked like rust on the left wing rear strut; I wonder if the plane was really airworthy. Most of all – who wears a parachute when going flying in a Taylorcraft? He planned it.

  3. There are two 5,000′ in length canyon areas close to the crash site, which are more than adequate for a dead-stick landing of a “Cub/Aeronca” type airplane. This jerk’s chosen site is within a designated wilderness area and a Condor Sanctuary.

    I hope all the jurisdiction throw the book at him, so to speak.

  4. What pilot in their own right mind not only unlatches the door before the engine quits, but then takes the time to pitch to slow down enough to make the prop stop windmill ING (watch him pump and ratchet up the control wheel slowing down). Every small Continental owner knows it takes slowing down to stop the prop. Even in the case of a wooden prop. This guy is a fake and a moron.

  5. Adding to Terps comment above, the video looks like there were several safe landing sites within gliding range of the Taylorcraft. Even a less suitable place would, most likely, caused less personal injury that he received from landing in a thicket. Agree with other posters, it certainly appears as a staged event. The lack of fire is curious, but not conclusive. Side comment: The Taylorcraft flies pretty well without a pilot!

  6. So many are so quick to condemn! Yeah, the selfie stick and all looks pretty sus, but if this guy has north of 100k subscribers, shooting video of everything he does is part of his lifestyle. If he’d been wearing a helmet it probably would have looked more suspicious to me than a video blogger with a selfie stick.

    Personally, I’ve found that NOTHING exciting ever happens when I fly with a rolling camera, so I ALWAYS start recording before I start the engine. lol

    Open door before the engine out? I know a lot of people who run that way in small airplanes because they like the added airflow and shoulder room.

    Nobody has really pointed out any smoking guns to me yet…

    What bothered me more was the no apparent attempt at restarting the engine. Obviously it’s an edited video, so maybe he just didn’t share that part? Maybe he was worried about having enough altitude for a safe jump if he spent time trying to restart?

    If I really wanted to throw this guy under the bus, I would try watching some of his other videos. Does he always have that many cameras on the plane? Does he always fly with a parachute?

    I’ve got some guesses as to what happened, but we don’t have enough information from this video to make a determination one way or another. I’m not going to pronounce judgement, but if you want to perform your own investigation so you can crucify the guy, maybe try doing some investigation first?

    • “Nobody has really pointed out any smoking guns to me yet…”

      1) He states “I always wear a parachute when flying” yet in his other videos he doesn’t have a chute on.
      2) It’s a full skydiver rig, not an emergency chute.
      3) He brought the selfie stick with camera when he bailed out.
      4) Never once tried to restart the engine.
      5) No video of the cabin when the engine quit (because then we’d see if pull the mixture or kill the mags).
      I could go on.

  7. Looks staged from the start. The N number is hard to see (hidden?), the door is open well before the “engine out.”
    I could see at least 3 or 4 places along the river that looked smooth enough for an emergency landing – he even walks through a nice spot as he descends from the “crash” site. I know that I am always looking for a safe spot to put the plane down, even with the engine running well, so many choices that jumping is the obviously WORST choice. He’s lucky he wasn’t impaled in the tree, just a few minor injuries and a case of poison oak. Would have been much safer to ride the plane down to a safe landing.
    He speaks of going parasailing, so you would imagine that the parasail is in the aircraft with him, but nothing in the rear of the plane and he does go for a sail at the end of the video.
    There’s a word for this in the YouTube world; “CLICKBAIT”

  8. To me is undoubtedly BS. To much coincidences before and after de “jump” (even the description of “material” “always” used) I think is time to stop those “aeronautical” nonsenses in YouTube.

  9. According to ASN it is (was) N29508, but there appears to be no N-# on the plane – as interesting as not making use of survivable crash landing site options in valleys clearly visible in the video.
    People do the craziest things to get clicks for publicity and dollars, but 50K views on YouTube translates into just about $50 for him… not much of a cash cow.
    Staged or not, I have a feeling that he’s regretting that day big time.

    • (Actually, a photo link from ASN does show the small N-# on the vertical stabilizer – which is not in view of his wing-mounted camera – but as “NC29508” – a bit long too for an FAA number AFAIK… just one more mysterious tidbit about this case 🙂

  10. Looked at his web site. This guy will be a candidate for the “Darwin Awards” soon. (https://darwinawards.com/). The aircraft overflew numerous safe landing areas after the engine quit. I believe he found his pilots license in a box of Cracker Jacks”. He wants to be An “Influencer”, I doubt if he can stay alive and out of jail long enough.

    • Naw, must be a modern equivalent. 😉

      (Cracker Jack popcorn and peanut candied with caramel is still available but I doubt common.

      For yunguns, each box had a prize of some sort, originally a small toy or trinket, during WWII and recently a piece of paper.)

  11. I agree with all the valid points and skepticism that this was a real emergency and add the following observations:
    If I’m parachuting into a remote area and facing a survival situation:
    Why would I waste all that cellphone battery power videoing myself; why wouldn’t I retrieve and save some or all of my parachute for use as a shelter, a blanket, a sun hat, a ground signal?
    Why wouldn’t I extract more survival-useful material from the wreckage?
    For everyone’s reasons and mine to name a few, I say “bogus” ego-freak jerk.
    I also hope he’s investigated for insurance fraud if he files a claim for the hull loss.

  12. My main comment is, why did he bail out so high? He obviously floated for several minutes before landing, so why not try to line the plane up for a landing in the flat river bottom, and they bail out if it looked like he wouldn’t make it? Plus, the video of the plane crash and the video of the crash site later don’t seem to match up with the terrain.

    • I don’t know how high but I point out that parachutes are not low altitude things.

      Reminder was two occupants of a Snowbird demonstration aircraft that had engine thrust loss during takeoff in Kamloops BC a couple of years ago, pilot hit the ground hard with parachute, injured. (Dedicated PR person in other seat died, probably because her parachute got damaged by contact with airframe on way out, IIRC.) Pilot pitched airplane up to gain some altitude to help parachute descent but it did not gain enough.

      • With a sport rig, doing a “hop’n’pop” (opening parachute upon exit) from 2000′ AGL is a safe-enough exit altitude. 1000′ AGL becomes iffy. Modern automatic-openers (like a CYPRES AAD) will open the reserve automatically if going over 78 MPH vertically at 750 AGL or lower. That’s about 4 seconds from impact. It’s a ‘last-ditch’ setting so as not to impede with the skydiver’s own efforts to resolve an emergency. In other words, if you haven’t sorted it out by 750′, you’re out of time.

        In this particular video, he was way higher than that, high enough for several seconds of freefall time (the fun part of skydiving for most). Rough estimates are that a skydiver falls about 1000′ in the first 10 seconds, and 1000′ every six seconds thereafter.

  13. Hmm.

    In some jurisdictions, such as Canada, making a false statement that leads to involvement of authorities can put one in prison.

    The mayor of Surrey BC is now under investigation accused of lying that a demonstrator ran over his foot with her car.

    Some kind of entertainer in Chicago or back there somewhere was recently convicted of falsely claiming he was attacked by some people for his race, apparently no attack of any kind.

  14. Has any pilot who practices engine outs or has actually had one kept the same straight and level attitude and especially heading? I think not. As we peruse the landscape for safe places we generally start some sort of turn. You have to turn to see the options. This jerk just keeps looking straight down through the pilot’s door without looking for any other real alternatives. There’s so many holes in this guy’s story he’s going down just like the poor old innocent T-Cart.

  15. What a complete crock of fecal material and waste of a classic airplane. With the altitude he had when the engine “quit”, he could have glided 50 miles, maybe more with a little help from thermals and the know how he has as a paraglider pilot. I am a 40+ year private pilot and flew paragliders for over 10 years. NO WAY would you just bail out of a plane like that (which conveniently had a dozen go pros on it)– NOR, would you bother to video every aspect of your survival journey.

    Totally staged and I hope he pays for this stunt. Sad.

  16. If this turns out to be staged, every license he has, flying, driving, drone, fishing, hunting and reproduction should be revoked. His sole contribution to the planet appears to be providing CO2 for the shrubbery that tore him a new one. Good for the shrubs, bad for the rest of us.

  17. I can’t believe this guy actually thinks he is smart enough to pull this off, this is premeditated stupidity to the extreme. We will find out exactly how he cut his engine off, the Dacron will unravel stich by stich. His planning and exaction was great, but the camera angles and cuts will only prove it was staged. His altitude provided him an abundance of canopy time to Film the crash and land adjacent to the crash site to retrieve the rigging equipment and cameras from the wing and tail section. It’s my hope the FAA has no mercy on this clown and revokes his ticket.

  18. At the beginning of the tape he shows a bag with his friends ashes in it. The bag has a very small amount of ashes that is way to small for a Human of any size. The amount of ash present would what you would get from a small cat.

  19. Well, a current check of who owns the aircraft in question, shows that it is Trevor Jacob himself. It seems either he had the change of ownership in the works before the crash, or he rushed to do it after the crash. Not sure for what reason.