The FAA has pulled the certificate of a California pilot and ex-Olympian who it says intentionally abandoned a vintage Taylorcraft and shot video of it crashing as he parachuted to the ground. Trevor Jacob has been told to surrender his ticket immediately and that he can’t apply for another one for a year for the flight, which occurred Nov. 24, 2021. “Your flight … [was] careless or reckless so as to endanger life or property of another,” says the letter notifying him of the emergency revocation of the private certificate he’d held since 2018. As we reported earlier, Jacob posted a YouTube video of the flight on Dec. 24 and it was immediately flooded with comments poking holes its premise.

In the video, Jacob claims to be heading from southern California to Mammoth ski area to spread the ashes of a recently deceased friend. At high altitude over the Los Padres National Forest, the propeller stops and he jumps out of the little plane and one of several cameras attached to the aircraft captures the scene. What follows are shots of the descending aircraft and a purported account of his hike out of the wilderness to a rescue by some farm workers.

The FAA’s litany of findings supporting the revocation reads a lot like the comments that were posted to YouTube before they were shut off. The agency noted that Jacob popped the door before the engine stopped, didn’t issue any kind of distress call or contact ATC, didn’t try to restart the engine and didn’t try to land the aircraft on the numerous clear and flat areas that could be seen in the video. The FAA also claims Jacob recovered the cameras and then disposed of the wreck.  

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


    • People in the 20’s and 30’s used to crash airplanes all the time for “show”.
      Obviously this was well planned out and executed just like people used to do all the time in airshows and in the movies. This was neither careless or reckless and neither did it endanger life or property of another. I guess since the FAA was created after this was normal that it can’t allow people to have the same fun that we used to.

      • This was not private land and there was no attempt to warn, prepare or evacuate people or property in the effected area (including other planes). As such this action absolutely did recklessly endanger life and property. This has nothing to do with professionally planned, executed and officially authorized stunts for movies or airshows.

        • The result here was a 1,000% safer than the unpland crashes in CA over the last few years!
          Point being that his planning and preparation underscores that it was neither reckless nor dangerous for himself or others. The FAA just could not find anything wrong with the plane, qualifications, airspace, equipment, or any of their billion regulations done incorrectly so they threw their catch all “creating bad image” rule at him.

          • It was reckless in that there was no way he could have planned exactly where the aircraft would crash. There could have been people or property where it ended up, but luckily there wasn’t. I’d say 91.13 definitely applies to this and clearly the FAA agrees.

  1. This guy’s psychological status is in SERIOUS question; I think he should be permanently grounded. Who flies a T-craft with a parachute ??

  2. I wish the USDA came down on him hard. Intentionally crashing a plane into a National Forest is savagery. As if California doesn’t have enough wild fires already.

    Maybe his defense will be that he flew the tanks empty to make sure there won’t be a fire … which would prove it was intentional in the first place.

  3. I would have thought the evidence supplied by this complete loon at 00:31 would be enough to see him imprisoned let alone rescind his pilot’s licence for life… but I am an old fashioned kinda guy.

  4. A year is definitely not enough. Lifetime ban would be more like it. His decision to put his YouTube hit rate above the safety of others says it all – not pilot material. What an example for an Olympian to set.

    Hopefully the FAA and other government agencies are not done with him yet, and this is just the first step to keep him out of the air (think what else this bozo might try if left to it). I also think various agencies might want to let Google/YouTube know about this because I recall that YouTube’s terms of service preclude posting videos of a crime being carried out – and what he did was actually a crime. If the appropriate notification was filed, his YouTube channel would be shut down and that would hit him where it really hurts – advertising income, not to mention ego stroking.

    Then there’s the matter of the helicopter company who assisted in removing the wreckage. Surely they violated a few laws/FARs in doing that? Perhaps their licenses should also be pulled – pilot involved and 135 operator licenses.

    We all work to make the skies safe and make sure people who don’t fly are safe on the ground. He clearly didn’t operate with that goal in mind. Just another selfish, self centered, self promoter who destroyed a wonderful aircraft, threatened people on the ground, threatened a National wildlife area and sullied the image of all pilots through his actions.

  5. Seems a little light on the sentence, but the key is: “cannot reapply for a year.” That is bureaucrat-ese for, “good luck trying to ever successfully reapply.” The FAA took the civil administrative approach, rather than a criminal track.

    Still, with all the threats of big fines around intentionally failing to disclose medical conditions & past drug or alcohol use for a 3rd class, this seems disproportionally light.

    We haven’t heard from NTSA yet. Removing & disposing of the wreck is a crime (tampering with evidence, removing & destroying evidence to conceal a crime (beyond doing what was necessary to rescue people, fight fire, or open the runway, etc).

    Having said that, I am amazed he got himself wearing a sport diving chute into the cramped cockpit of a T-Craft AND got out the door wearing that rig while in flight. Kinda wished he’d gotten hung up & dragged down with the plane. That would have been a compelling video.

    Somebody should at least estimate how much money he made on the vid & fine him that amount (or ensure he spent that cash on defense attorneys).

  6. I am stunned by the stupidity and arrogance of people. This is symptomatic of a larger issue and that is, that civilization is doomed unless these people are stopped.

    • Or, it’s freedom and liberty and fun.
      Stopping people from doing anything “fun” with their money and toys will actually doom society to managed controlled opressive boredom. Stay within the lines or we will punish you…

      • I assume this is sarcasm. The “fun” stops where other lives and property (incl. federal / public) are actively and substantially compromised. Who says there couldn’t have been a group of hikers or a forest ranger down there at that time?

        Yes, stay within the lines or we will punish you. That’s why we have laws. Plenty of room for fun within those boundaries …

  7. I was expecting a fine too. The FAA says they’re going all in with fining rowdy passengers on commercial flights, yet this guy’s antics don’t warrant a big fine? As it is, he’s got a year to think about what he’s done, basically a time out. Pretty sure he’ll use that time thinking up more jackassery to commit on the ground.

    • A fine seems very likely, this is merely an emergency action while the proceedings against him are still ongoing.

    • He has a year before he can re-apply – but the FAA can still turn him down.

      I suspect that we’ll see an extended grounding.

  8. That’s it? I can intentionally crash aircraft and only lose my license for a year? Well worth the youtube hits/money.

    I bet if he would have landed illegally someplace in order to deliver badly needed medical supplies to impoverished orphans they would have revoked him for life and sent him to federal prison for 10 years.

    • No, this isn’t “it”, this is an emergency action against him while the real investigation is still pending because his actions were deemed too egregious to allow him to continue to exercise his license pending the proceedings against him.

  9. Where’s the TSA/DHS on this? Seems like there’s a case to make that he was using his aircraft as a flying weapon too. It crashed in wildnerness, but it easily could have crashed in a more populated area.

  10. I hope the Forest Service and the agency for the Condor sanctuary go after this jerk for criminal prosecution.

    Once again, the FAA demonstrates that it is a paper tiger.

  11. The inherent stability of that airplane is VERY impressive.

    Essentially, he intentionally destroyed a perfectly serviceable aircraft (a crime in itself) and took a chance that no one else was going to be impacted by this stunt.

    lifetime ban from being a pilot is the bare minimum penalty … In my opinion.

  12. How is it even possible that a menace such as this guy, could lose his license for only one year? Many pilots who had never dreamt of doing anything close to being this callous and dangerous, have had their license permanently revoked for a lot less. His punishment should be a lot heavier. Innocent people on the ground could have easily been killed. This selfish, attention-seeking boor has no business in the sky.

    • This is not the final verdict, it’s just an emergency action while the investigation is still ongoing.

  13. If he’s willing to destroy a plane for some clicks, do you really think that not have a license is going to stop him from flying? I agree with one of the earlier posters – fine him heavily! (Some jail time would be a good idea too.)

  14. This is what happens when the world has a stage that financially incentivizes clowns. The more outrageous the clown the more incentive. Ever escalating stupidity is more incented. Which means all of us who fall for that crap are partly to blame for clicking on crap like that. Worse yet, we forwarded it to others and make it viral.

  15. It seems obvious that a person like this is part of an increasing minority who have taken the stance that morality and laws are no longer a factor to stop them from doing things they feel will pay off for them. You can be sure that he will not accept any punishment and will not stop flying or doing any other careless stunts. I suspect there are many people flying planes even using the ATC system with no certificates, no medical and no training and the only time we will find out is when they are involved in an accident.

  16. 1 year??? That “year” is half over. Slap on the wrist. The “self-absorbed” types might consider another avocation. I consider the upcoming “plane to plane” transfer to be equally stupid. Hope the FAA is watching that one.

  17. Justice would have been served if the airplane had come around and flown itself into his parachute. One less idiot in the world to deal with.

  18. The government could bring in the big gun (the EPA) as I am sure some oil or other petrochemical was spilled during the crash. Also might be some lead contamination of the soil. Charge him for the cost of finding, testing and decontaminating the crash site.

  19. Why is the link to the video included. The last thing we should be doing is adding to this clown’s view count.

  20. Let’s see, a very experienced pilot can safely fly under a bridge in an unpopulated area and have all your certificates given life revocation but intentionally send a plane off on its own to crash without any regard to persons or property and be given one year suspension? Yes we all know the bridge was a stupid stunt but if you know the bridge it wasn’t dangerous.
    Which example does that set?

    • Good point. It does seem like a 2-teired “justice” system. Whatever the punishment was for one should be for the other. (Arguably more for the one who was careless & reckless for personal gain. AFAIK, the bridge barnstormer didn’t publicize her stunt.)

    • “a very experienced pilot can safely fly under a bridge in an unpopulated area and have all your certificates given life revocation but intentionally send a plane off on its own to crash without any regard to persons or property and be given one year suspension?”

      The article says he can “reapply for another certificate in a year”, meaning his certificate has been revoked, not suspended. That means he’d have to receive at least 3 hours of training and take the checkride again (assuming they didn’t nullify his existing hours). And I’m not sure if he’d also have to take the written again.

      He really should receive a monetary fine, but he’s also not getting just a slap on the wrist with a suspension. It sounds like his certificate has been completely revoked, just like the aforementioned bridge-underflying pilot (she just had more certificates involved).

  21. I am not even going to watch that video. What a waste of a wonderful piece of aviation history. This guy should be suspended for longer than 1 year.

  22. FAA’s “emergency revocation” only took 4 months when it should have been done immediately even before a full investigation was finished with the provision that it was really an emergency and the certificate would be returned if the investigation proved there were no significant issues or violations.

  23. I wonder why it took so long. Hopefully there will be fines, criminal charges and he will never be able to get a license again.

    • The video was posted 12/25/21, and the FAA issued this decision/order on 4/1/22. That seems pretty quick for them.

  24. That road the airplane flew over at 3:18 would have been more than sufficient to land on, probably without even damaging the airplane.

    Agree, pilot certificate revocation should have been permanent, and prosecutors should be scouring the books for crimes to charge him with.

  25. Whatever….He will eventually end up with a final hold my beer event that will be just that, final.

    • The FAA was wrong; the pilot OBVIOUSLY plannned the stunt out for some time and executed it flawlessly. I hope he gets jobs on movie to crash planes like a B-17 (like Paul Mantz) or other vintage plances crashed in California just for the video.

      • Executed flawlessly? Can you point me to the action he took to ensure nobody could possibly get hurt on the ground? Was the entire potential crash area cordoned off? Did Rangers and the Police make sure nobody could enter? Were medical crews on standby, just in case something went wrong? Firefighters? Did he get permissions? ‘Cuz that’s how they do it in the movies, in case you didn’t realize.

  26. Some of the comments here are hysterical, have we pilots turned into wimps, I wholly disgree with his action but it was his own private property and his own life he was risking…… Creless and reckless?? the catch all sly FAA judgement call….. the loathing and hate mail that he was getting should be suffficient. He is no hero in my book but he certainly practiced his right to be a public idiot we can’t outlaw that,,, watch the news media.. if you want to be hesterical look at the Democrats..

    • Someone had to make this political, of course.

      Did he crash the plane onto land he owns? ‘Nuff said about “his own private property” and “practiced his right”.

  27. I certainly don’t condone this guy’s actions, but it wasn’t that long ago (in aviation history) that some of our predecessors (including Lindbergh) performed similar acts in the name of entertainment and notoriety ( Of course, there was no Big Brother (initially) to suppress these exploits, so it’s interesting to see/hear the condemnation spewing forth now when, a hundred years ago, many of us would have gladly paid two bits to experience the thrill!