The Trouble With Making Examples Of Stupid Pilot Tricks


When I was in ninth grade—hell, when I was in college—I didn’t know what an algorithm was. Now, my life—yours too—is ruled by the damn things. Absentmindedly click on something and within hours, you’re buried in a tsunami of more of the same, ultimately building into that $#@%storm that fuels social media: outrage.

You have to have robust critical thinking skills to avoid being sucked into the black vortex of reactive anger and unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you know that artificial intelligence is going to make it just a whole lot worse. But before that dystopian funnel of doom is visited upon us, we can, for a few moments, contemplate the pathetic specter of Trevor Daniel Jacob, a snowboarder of some accomplishment who has achieved YouTube immortality by filming himself intentionally crashing an airplane. (YouTube immortality lasts about as long it takes the algorithm to sense a microsecond of boredom and send you, like a squirrel chasing a nut, to click on something else that will glaze your eyes just a little less.) Jacob actually hit the Tri-Fecta; he got himself on all three major news networks. Some feat.

While I hesitate to admit it, I find have a sort of perverse admiration for someone who could first think up such a galactically stupid stunt, persevere to carry it through and at least believe some viewers in the YouTubeverse would be galactically naïve enough to believe what they’re seeing is real. Or, if we’re gaslighting ourselves here, know full well it’s a hoax but the purveyor somehow has us in on the joke.

But is the joke worth a few years in the slammer?

I suppose we’re about to find out. After Jacob filmed his crash, he retrieved the wreckage from the site after telling investigators he didn’t know where it was. This, it turns out, is considered obstruction of a federal investigation and it’s bad. Very bad. I’ve seen reporting that suggests the max sentence for this felony crime is 20 years, but I can’t find the documentation to support that. I did find guidelines for five to 10 years.

But should such a crime that only minimally endangered anyone on the ground if it endangered them at all result in jail time? The only way I get to yes is to allow myself the outrage reaction to the stunt that fuels social media and gains additional animation from Jacob’s adroit success at casting GA in a bad light. Does 20 years in jail or even five violate the Eighth Amendment’s stricture against cruel and unusual punishment? After all, the felony part here involves pissing off the government. But yes, since we’re a nation of laws, living that creed means honoring the investigators meant to enforce laws, so looking the other way isn’t an option. I was curious enough about this to publish a poll on it and thus far, a strong plurality thought a five-year jail term (or more) was right, although one in five favored probation and a fine. Personally, I’d go with six months and a big fine.

It’s difficult to resist the urge to teach these damn YouTubers a lesson so they won’t do it again. That, I think, is where five years comes from. But be careful what you wish for in cheering the government to drop the hammer. That’s what they did in the Trent Palmer case, a far milder infraction than that committed by Jacob. Recall his certificate was suspended for 120 days after a resident complained that a low pass he made to attempt a landing at an RC field was reckless.

The FAA never should have bothered with enforcement. It should have done what many of us remember from a few decades ago. A friendly phone call with some fatherly advice. Or, at worst, a 709 ride as a refresher. Case closed.

The trouble with making examples so that others may fear to tread is that it’s abusive. And if you trust the administrative law process to mete out justice wisely and fairly, you’re dreaming. In the Palmer case, the administrative law judge overseeing the case said as much. The judge said the FAA’s investigatory work showed “negligence and carelessness and sloppiness …” Yet the case proceeded anyway and Palmer was sanctioned.

This is justice? More like a Star Chamber, in my view. The NTSB agrees with the FAA overwhelmingly on appeals. Palmer’s is one that shouldn’t have been brought in the first place. Yes, the Jacob case is different and egregious. It’s also a felony. But let’s all just be a little restrained in calling for harsh punishment for errant pilots. The law process we’re all subject to has little demonstrated history of wisdom, fairness and equality. 

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  1. I agree that a punishment consisting of a six-month sentence and a fine is fair and appropriate.

    • I agree as well but chose 5 years in the poll… you didn’t give a big fine as a choice.

  2. He was charged with one count of 18 U.S.C. § 1519: Destruction and Concealment of a Tangible Object with Intent to Obstruct Federal Investigation.

    §2J1.2 is the sentencing guideline for sec. 1519 offenses and has a “base” of Level 14, but it also says

    “2) If the offense resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice, increase by 3 levels.

    (3) If the offense (A) involved the destruction, alteration, or fabrication of a substantial number of records, documents, or tangible objects;… (C) was otherwise extensive in scope, planning, or preparation, increase by 2 levels.”

    So, having nothing to do with the actual stunt, he was facing at very least a Level 19 sentence with a minimum of 30 months incarceration (assuming zero criminal history). There were like more of these “bonus” points they could find to add up to at least 4 yrs min., and possibly many more, but like Paul, I don’t see this adding up to 20 yrs.

    This obviously went well beyond the “apologize to the FSDO guy, do a two hour refresher flight with a CFI as penance, then we’ll forget the whole thing ever happened” when you get multiple agencies involved, and you lie over and over, and put it on YouTube.

    Just like all of us, the government has to save face and so they made laws, like Paul says, for pissing them off. If you put something on YouTube and then lie, it’s pretty hard for them to ignore that. Being “made an example of” is not the case, IMO, they do this all the time since it’s so easy to get a conviction. Just ask Martha Stuart, the federal government goes after people like her and many other people the SEC, FBI, ATF etc. investigates because you are lying to them and sending them off on a wild goose chase, and they don’t have a sense of humor. Once you make false statements to federal investigators, they know this is a slam-dunk conviction and will go after you, if only to keep their stats up.

    This might sound harsh, but don’t break federal law. These guys have nothing better to do, they have 95%+ conviction rates, and they di that by only going after slam-dunk cases.

    Reminds me of a local college kid who had a Zebra card printer making fake IDs to get beer underage. He was selling them for $200 to friends, and these were such a good job that word spread and business was booming. For a lot of us this was just a part of growing up, way back when, and if you got caught they wouldn’t send you to the gallows, you’d get arrested but you probably were not going to prison. Not these days. You would not believe the stakeout they had to catch a 19 year old. Like Paul said, in the old days when people were more reasonable, this was a scared-straight thing where the judge lectured him, he showed remorse, he got 500 hrs. community service and a suspended sentence, but then a year later his life was back to normal.

    But with post-9/11 federal laws, he was not dealing with the local or state police, he was taken down by a million-agency task force(FBI, postal insp., ATF, DEA, ICE, US Marshals, EIEIO) and now his crime is aiding terrorism and he was facing somewhere around 119 counts of forging official documents; each count was a max of 8 years in federal prison. Last I saw him, they had him in some Hannibal Lecter restraint and the cops were parading him around like they just caught Bin Laden.
    So yeah, there message was clear to me – don’t piss these guys off .

    • Don’t make them angry, but also don’t make yourself an easy way for them to pad their stats while avoiding any hard or dangerous work.

  3. Glad to see that I am not completely alone in being stumped by the anger, rigor and downright embarrassing nature of outrage thrown towards, (yet) another victim of a social media click-frenzy.

    People love watching other people do incredibly dumb stuff online. Some sort of sick-twisted self-entertaining that seems to distract people from the harsh reality of life.

    According to the poll, the clear majority of readers wants this guy’s head on a platter. Fame and glory (even if attained through a few stunts on TikTok, Youtube or other mass-distraction platforms) is mostly short-lived. You know this! Most other people do know this! However, some obviously struggle with the concept of common sense.

    Mr. Jacob will feel the repercussions of this truth for a while to come. For what? I am not sure what kind of net- revenue videos like this bring and how much of it one gets to keep after the IRS takes its cut and the FAA settles on a fine/ penalty. Any company/ business willing to sponsor idiocy at this level, should be held liable, as well.

    We no longer live in times that allow our industry to be presented recklessly and I believe thats the reason for the anger within the pilot populace. Many of the old-timers have fought tooth to nail to get the “rich idiot stigma” out of the general aviation circus and here comes Mr. Algorythm Hold Ma Beer and rips it all to shreds. Thanks!

    I do hope that some of the dinosaurs (I am one) will take a deep breath and realize that they were young and dumb at least once in their lifetime, except it never appeared on social media.

    Reality is, we – as a community and industry – are completely defenseless about the very next guy doing the same thing or something worse. Probably because we know that someone is prepping a stunt of grande- ginormous idiocy right now, we naively hope that, the FAA throwing a brick after this guy, could possibly make the next guy think twice. We would be dead wrong, unfortunately.

    • I was young and dumb once too but nothing I ever did rose to the idiocy of intentionally crashing an airplane and lying about it, regardless of the motivation. While I don’t think a prison sentence is warranted here, license revocation probation and a significant fine will hopefully serve as a deterrent to the next internet sensation (knucklehead) tempted to do something equally moronic.

    • He lied to Federal agencies. He obstructed an investigation. I hope he gets five years to think about it. It is only a matter of time if this passes that some idiot is going to buy a Lear on it’s last legs or even a 727 and crash it into something. He needs to be made into an example.

    • As young and dumb as I once was (nowadays I’m just dumb) I still managed to avoid doing things that could kill people and land me in prison. It’s not that difficult. Throwing the book at him may not deter the next idiot. Being that stupid and arrogant usually precludes learning from the mistakes of others. It’s still worthwhile to keep trying to deter them.

  4. Paul I have a massive amount of respect for you and love your content. I usually agree with you on most things but I feel like you got this one all wrong. First, I feel like you’re implying the enforcement is about the staging of the crash when you say “But should such a crime that only minimally endangered anyone on the ground if it endangered them at all result in jail time”, that’s not what he’s pleading guilty to. This is all about his deliberate actions of lying to investigators and then intentionally destroying evidence he had already been informed and agreed was his responsibility to preserve. It’s a willful attempt to prevent the investigation from discovering the facts, that’s obstruction at it’s rawest sense. That type of willful cover-up and anti-authority behavior should ALWAYS be met with swift and considerable response. Sweeping that under the rug is NOT OK.

    Second, I feel like you fail to acknowledge the true impact of this. As you noted the entire world saw what happened here. People not involved in aviation in any way saw these antics. General Aviation is already fighting a decades long PR battle with the general public in order to keep our airports and keep them funded (you’ve mentioned this repeatedly in your own content).

    When those in our community like Trevor Jacob pull these stunts that get mainstream attention, it harms our community overall. We’re trying to convince people that we’re good stewards of the community, that GA is on the whole a safe activity to be occurring in (and above) their communities, etc. But situations like this just feed ammunition to the opposition to encourage further restrictions on all of us. So yes, being direct in the punishment of these willful actions is a productive and good thing in my opinion. It shows society at large that people who do these things are the outliers and that the FAA/NTSB/Federal authorities/etc. will punish them in meaningful ways when they potentially put people, property, and national forests at risk.

    With regard to Trent Palmer I think that’s a very different situation. A) It wasn’t a stunt done for views and a sponsorship (i.e. compensation) B) From everything I’ve seen in the court documents, Trent Palmer completely cooperated with the investigation. C) There is a plausible explanation for his actions and one can definitely argue good faith on his part even if ultimately in violation of the regulations D) Even in the court documents it was acknowledged that the neighbors (the complainants) were exaggerating and seemed vindictive. Definitely not the same as the Trevor Jacob situation.

    Just my two cents, still very much respect you and appreciate all the content you produce!!

    • I agree.
      It’s not just the stupid stunt he pulled and the terrible publicity he intentionally gave to GA, but the willful and intentional lying to investigators to cover up his unsanctioned stunt. He didn’t seem to offer up any real sort of remorse for the stunt, and his cover-up could imply that he wouldn’t have cared much if the crash damaged “persons or property” on the ground. That’s a very basic violation of societal norms, and he deserves prison time for that.

      • I completely agree with You, Mr.Gary Baluha. With respect, I, in the majority of aspects desagree with Mr. Paul Bertorelli wrote today. That’s life of articulisters: sometimes they write wisely, sometimes they do not.

    • Bingo…..thanks for saving me a lot of time this morning. You took the words right out of my mouth. Being a pilot does include a sacred trust which this idiot violated. 10 years, no fine (he won’t pay it anyway), never licensed again, and sharing a cell with Bubba.

  5. I really don’t think we would be discussing this (not like this anyway) if his plane had landed on an occupied RV or something. Unlikely, I know but, if you have been around as long as me, you will know how probability has a nasty habit of bitting from time to time. This was such a monumentally stupid thing to do that even if he hadn’t lied to the authorities he should do some prison time, if nothing else, to do *something* to stop any other idiots doing something similar… or worse.

    • Are the “other idiots” thoughtful enough to be deterred? Is punishment effective (other than getting an idiot off the street)? I have no answer. A search indicates the answer is illusive.

  6. I feel that people are undervaluing the physical threat that Trevor Jacob’s *stupid* stunt presented. Airplanes falling uncontrolled out of the sky is NOT OK. Even if, as happened, it didn’t land on anyone’s head, it could well have started a wildfire, and California was suffering a severe drought at the time of his crime. It’s just dumb luck that it did not start a raging wildfire which would have threatened much environmental harm, property damage and risk of death and injury to firefighters. This was a serious crime, deliberately conducted, even before he obstructed the investigation. Throw the book at him!
    Trent Palmer’s case is not at all comparable and was a miscarriage of justice.

  7. He’s not being prosecuted for the stunt, he’s being prosecuted for what we call in this country “perverting the course of justice”. In most places, it’s a pretty serious crime to destroy evidence.

  8. Who among us hasn’t done dumb things in airplanes? In my Cub days, there was no Youtube, so no record, plus, most of us didn’t leave a perfectly good airplane to its own devices, to crash where it may, not good pilot judgement. If this fellow had honestly answered all questions, and had plead temporary stupidity, he would have skated with a suspension of license, and maybe a fine. But no, he had to engineer a coverup, a red flag for the Feds, and more stupid that the original crime, putting himself beyond the hands of the FAA, and into the hands of the DOJ, which is well known for its lack of a sense of humor or mercy. Lesson learned I hope.

  9. Remember when you were in 3rd grade and the bad kid flaunted the teacher’s rules? You figured that if you had to abide by the rules, so did he. So when he got caught, you wanted him punished. That’s what I think is going on here. We pilots have a lot of rules to follow in order to keep the aviation safe. While some of the rules are a pain, they do in fact keep the system safe. I have no sympathy for Trevor. He flaunted the rules and got caught.

    • “While some of the rules are a pain, they do in fact keep the system safe.”

      – Citation needed. Assumes facts not in evidence. Controversial.

  10. Trevor lied to the government to protect his own skin. He took the chance. The moron lost. Book ‘em Dano.

    According to news reports(if they can be believed any longer) Trent Palmer has had “other” run-ins with the FAA. Multiple. The landing attempt (hmmmm) was not his first phone call from the regulators. I am guessing this “buzzing” phone call didn’t go all that well between Captain Palmer and the fed. Secondly, Palmer’s land-owner friend made a huge mistake by not notifying his neighbors in advance of the stunt……….after all the neighbors have the right to quietly enjoy their property as well. Why do we as pilots continue to think we have all the rights just because we are pilots while others have no rights? To deny others their rights is lousy stewardship of our passion.

    In the matter of FAA vs. Red Bull……I hope the FAA prosecutes everyone connected with the illegal stunt all the way to the CEO. They were told “no” well in advance, but they did it anyway. The Austrian company intentionally stuck a finger in the eye of OUR government to promote their own product. If it is publicity Red Bull wants, I say we give them plenty (and quit buying their product). Book em Dano.

  11. It’s the job of an admin law judge to weigh arguments from both sides and render an opinion. We might disagree with his decision, but unless you have some inside knowledge about the judge in question, I don’t think it’s fair to call the Trent Palmer case a “star chamber.” Yes, Mr. Palmer had a plausible explanation for his action, but that’s a two-way street; the FAA also had a plausible explanation for pursuing an enforcement action. Neither side in this case was denied an opportunity to present an argument. Ultimately, the judge determined that despite the FAA’s lousy investigation, Mr. Palmer had alternate means to evaluate the landing site other than a low pass. There’s certainly room for disagreement regarding the severity of the punishment, but I think it’s wrong to denigrate a judge because you disagree with a ruling.

    • I’ve got a basic problem with the administrative law judge system. While most of them are likely good people trying to do a good job, the job itself is somewhat corrupt. It’s like these people you have to talk to in call centers. OTOH, they probably do not deserve you yelling at them over bad decisions made by people above their pay grade. At the same time, they took a job that helps enable bad managers and their idiot policies and shield them from the results.
      Administrative law judges (and even our proper, legislative branch judges) generally do not have a lot of room to use their own judgement anymore. That has advantages and disadvantages, but in the case of administrative law judges it enables bad bureaucracies to dodge their proper responsibilities. Congress delegate’s irresponsibly, bureaucracies take maximum advantage, and administrative law judges shield them both from the check and balance of the judiciary.

  12. Life with the possibility of parole. Not only for the reasons listed above, but for the murder of a perfectly good aircraft. Taylorcraft (where I once was an engineer) at one time held, and by all accounts still holds, the World Altitude Record (24,311 ft) for class with a BC-65: See Grace Huntington 12 Sept 1940. In so far as he did it on purpose, and not due to an unfortunate incident, makes this a crime, not just a crash.

  13. Intentionally destroying the T-cart: I’ll go with cruel and unusual punishment.
    The Trent Palmer deal: Give em a spanking and a good talk’n to.

  14. He deserves a stiff, stiff fine and a year or two in jail with permanent revocation of his pilot’s license. As mentioned in an earlier comment here, “Airplanes falling uncontrolled out of the sky is NOT OK” which is beyond his lying and is the most important crime to me. This was not some prank but a coldly calculated act to get his 15 minutes of fame.

  15. Sorry Paul, you got this completely wrong. If you think lying to investigators is okay and others think the same way then we are all in trouble. This dope did an incredibly stupid act that launched a Federal investigation. Stupid act 1. Then he lies to investigators, stupid act 2. Lying to investigators is a crime established under federal law. Pissing investigators off is not the basis for a sanction. Violating the law is so he got what he deserved. He needs to find a less stupid hobby.

    • And #2 wasn’t just a white lie like “my transponder altitude must have been off a bit because my altimeter showed me above the Class-C airspace”, but rather a bald-faced lie about the cause of the crash AND an intentional removal of evidence.

  16. The trouble is the US is a awash in crimes that go unpunished. We see it all the time. People doing dumb sh*t and only a slap on the hand (if that). To the causal observer it looks like only people of a certain political ideology are punished. Perhaps Trevor thought he was on that woke political team and would not be punished. Perhaps he saw all the crimes that go unpunished and thought he was on the woke team. Who knows. Trevor violated the cardinal rule. He embarrassed the government! Sadly equal justice is not.

    • To the casual observer it looks like you are a fringe right nutjob using the word woke to raise political grievances when discussing an airplane related crime.

  17. We used to crash airplanes for exhibition all the time in the 20’s and 30’s. This is just the modern incarnation of that and people still love to watch it (over and over). Heck, this guy even picked up his own trash afterwards so he should not even be charged with littering!

    The only crime was waking up the FAA and NTSB and so they had to have a public execution to quell the masses.

  18. Lots of passion here and it is renewing my interest to see our pilot community processing it. I stopped paying much attention to either case as in my opinion both instances are a black eye for GA and therefore I believe the perpetrators will get what they have earned. I still have faith that our justice system, while not perfect, will be fair and impartial.

    Personally I am not qualified to be a judge so who am I to judge the judge let alone the entire judicial system. These are interesting times. Social media ambassadors have the power of the press to indirectly influence tons of would be copycats. These ambassadors lack the training, professionalism, and support network journalists are taught and can use the support of to help moderate their content. What could go wrong?

    Like others have said or implied this spills off into the judicial system to use what we know and adapt it to as best we can to our current unknowns. We surely have the right to debate what we know and process if justice was served, was too little, or went too far. This feeds the politics that feeds the laws and rule making efforts and so the cycle continues…

  19. Paul, I normally agree with you and highly respect your opinion, but you’re missing something important I think. He intentionally crashed in national forest where forest fires are life threatening to not just a few people like you’d see with letting a plane come down unoccupied in an urban area, but to 100’s or thousands including the lives the firefighters that would have to go into a remote area to fight this. Years ago I lived on the northeast side of that area and watched a forest fire travel eastward over 20 miles in 12 hours. There was simply nothing firefighters could do because there were no roads or other access in that area.

    On the surface it would appear Jacobs minimized the risk, but in reality he actually created a risk as great as doing this over a populated area. I don’t think he deserves 20 years, but I do think a year or two and a fine that is more than the revenue he derived from the stunt would be in order.

    As far as the FAA revoking his certificate, as I understand it after some period of time he can retake the written/checkride and get them back (although likely forever uninsurable). It’s not too much different than a 709 ride save that there’s a minimum waiting period before taking the checkride again. Someone correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    • I’d be interested to see if any DPE would be willing to do a reinstatement ride with him.

  20. The real crime is he wasn’t charged with careless and reckless. Where the heck is Inspector Obvious when you need him?

  21. The issue has nothing to do with the stunt and 100% to do with the attempt to interfere with authorities investigation.
    I will not opine about the level of risk to himself and to others, how smart or foolish this act was, etc. The simple issue is that a society-the United States of America in the case, has to deter people from breaking the law. The guy not only lied to a federal investigator but actively tried to hide what he did when faced with an active investigation.

    I can understand why he did that – it is actually a natural reaction. I made many mistakes and wish I will never have to face the music. And yes, I sometimes did stretch the facts just a little to the west. But allowing such behavior in front of an investigation to succeed is dangerous to orderly society, because now trying to hiding any other crime is becoming quantitative rather than qualitative.

    I believe that the punishment will not be for the stunt, but for what he did after. The fact that it is understandable is secondary. Even the fact that it is natural is immaterial regarding teh charge. If I was the judge – I will lean to the lesser punishment allowed by the guidelines, but I am not a judge (nor do I wish to ever become one..)

  22. I disagree with this. This clown wrecked this plane to get likes and views on You Tube. If he doesn’t suffer any consequences others will step it up. What is next jumping out of an old 727 to watch it slam into a mountain? He could have possibly endangered people on the ground. What if the tailor craft had not spiraled down but had flown a distance and smashed into a house or vehicle? I hope he gets at least 5 years in prison and has plenty of time spooning with his cell mate to ponder what he did.

  23. How about a very large fine and a years probation. As stupid as this stunt was I have a problem jailing him for this when you have Soros prosecutors in major cities refusing to jail rapists, repeat offenders committing all sorts of mayhem up to and including murder.

  24. Paul, you could have been reading my mind. The only point about which I’m uncertain is the the endangerment of anyone on the ground. (Referring to the Trever Jacob intentional crash now.) I’m in Alberta, watching the huge fires burning away the province. (Slight exaggeration.) I think the potential of fires, especially in that area, justifies some time. (AND wrecking a flying aircraft, since I am a devout Taylorcraft owner.) But it’s not honouring the investigators that is the justification. Plus, I’m not convinced the “investigators” would have even noticed the incident had the video not generated such a @#$%storm across the internet.

    • Which brings up another question: did he report the accident as required by NTSB 830? If he didn’t, then that’s another rule he violated. If he did, he obviously didn’t disclose the true reason for it (i.e. that it was intentional), and that’s more lying to investigators.

  25. I support a stiff sentence. This was not a high school prank. He willfully crashed an airplane, lied about it, destroyed evidence. Maybe he needed to be the example of enforcement.

    Trent Palmer, as you mentioned, is a horrible miscarriage of “justice” to make a point. The FAA is way out of line on that one, and an incompetent administrative law judge undermines any remaining faith in the system. While I think Palmer is a jerk, convicting him on this nonsense charge puts all pilots at risk for aborting an unsafe landing. How about a deer on the runway? How about any other runway incursion? How about a river bar not seen from 500′? Find any of the other stupid tricks Palmer has done to “get” him, but interpreting the law to mean an aborted landing, or a low investigative pass, is a crime is more federal abuse of the “system.”

  26. The problem with a very harsh sentence is that this guy clearly has some mental health issues, which are probably at the root of his behavior. He needs guidance and not from a bunch of guys in a federal pen.

  27. The argument that this stunt didn’t end up hurting anyone is a non-starter. By that logic it’s OK to drive drunk as long as you manage not to hurt someone. Even if the chances were low of falling on a building or a hiker, the chances of starting a forest fire in that tinderbox otherwise known as California was high.

    This schmuck intentionally crashed an irreplaceable classic aircraft and endangered people on the ground for some internet fame. If that doesn’t illustrate much of what’s wrong with social media culture then I don’t know what does. Then he went out of his way to cover up evidence. He gave a black eye to GA, which is already struggling with bad public perception.

    He needs to spend a considerable chunk of his young life in jail and pay an eye-watering fine. Twenty years is excessive but he was never in much danger of getting that much time anyway. It may not deter the next stunt; people this stupid and arrogant aren’t likely to learn from the mistakes of others. But do we really want to go down the road of not bothering to try and deter them?

    • “ The argument that this stunt didn’t end up hurting anyone is a non-starter. By that logic it’s OK to drive drunk as long as you manage not to hurt someone.”

      Seems that’s the measure of a crime these days: The potential for harm, not the actual harm incurred.

      By that logic, you drive home from work every day and end up hurting no one. Yet you have the potential to drive faster than the posted speed limit and the opportunity to kill someone.

      How many years behind bars should you get?

  28. Let’s stand way back and think about the charges and then look at a bigger picture.
    We all know a very prominent person that destroyed over 300,000 pieces of evidence, the container holding said evidence and the said person and staff demonstrably lied about the entire episode while creating another lie to throw everyone off the trail.
    They were not, nor will they be prosecuted for obstruction and destroying evidence?
    If the scales really are level, this stupid pilot should be haiked as a hero by at least half of the readers of this letter and it’s comments.
    Problem is, we know for a fact the scales of lady justice are not level

  29. “But yes, since we’re a nation of laws, living that creed means honoring the investigators meant to enforce laws, so looking the other way isn’t an option.”

    A “Nation of Law” may have been appropriate for a young Republic, but it has become a catch-all for condoning government overreach.

    We are no longer measured by the Freedom and Liberty endowed by the creator, but be how much Freedom and Liberty can be removed by other men. If Freedom were a bucket, we take pride and pleasure in how many holes we can poke in the bucket.

    We take pleasure in the “law” for all the Palmers of the world, but beg for mercy when those very laws are aimed at our foreheads. Worst still, we applaud the law when the hammer falls, but are taken aback when the law is not applied to those in power. We naively believe that the law applies to those who are entrusted with it.

    We espouse the virtues of Freedom and Liberty, so long as it is we who get to decide to whom, and to what measure those Freedoms and Liberties apply.

  30. Two years jail, 10 years revocation of license/ratings, $100,000 fine. That sounds reasonable
    if you consider the reckless action of willfully departing from a perfectly operating, fueled aircraft and letting in fall where it may. All the obstruction/lying charges just help secure the guarantee of federal jail time.
    Will it cause others to think about the next stupid GA trick to post on YouTube? It would be nice to believe that it would, but being 6 decades old, I probably don’t understand the mindset of YouTube fame seekers.

  31. As usual, the cover-up was worse than the crime. Otherwise, the FAA would have probably just canceled his ticket, provided he cleaned up his mess on the hillside. In any event, he agreed to the punishment as part of his plea bargain. OTOH, if his stunt had lit a forest fire that endangered firefighters, lives, homes, or wildlife, life in prison is about the right punishment.

  32. Real problem, he illegally retrieved the wreckage, took it to a non disclosed location cut it up and dispensed of it in various locations. (Isn’t that what the Clintons do to bodies?) But he is not a Political player, only a low life YouTuber.

  33. I still cannot spell allgo rhythm whatsits, but the point is that a few people make money out of them when the advertising agencies running the social media platforms decide enough clicks, equals dollars.
    So the stunt was probably done for money before fun.
    As far as I know he owned the plane, (and presumably insurance agents are still laughing at his claim) and it will be easy to see how much money he earned from allgo whatsits.
    So why not a fine, of all his allgo income, +50%?
    Hit him harder than any time in white collar jail, spent dreaming up more ways to get allgo money.