FAA Revokes License Of Pilot It Alleges Crashed On Purpose

Letter screenshot
Credit: FAA

The FAA, in an emergency order on April 1, revoked the private pilot certificate of a pilot, Trevor Jacob, alleging Jacob purposely crashed his 1940 single-engine Taylorcraft in California’s Los Padres National Forest for the purpose of filming it. 

Jacob, a former U.S. Olympic snowboard competitor and YouTuber, parachuted to safety with minor injuries, but filmed the 2021 accident, posting the controversial video entitled, “I Crashed My Plane,” on YouTube. To date, it has received 2.2 million views. His Adventured.com channel has 135,000 subscribers. 

After the video’s release, aviation experts wondered whether the crash was a planned publicity stunt. Following an investigation, the FAA calls the Nov. 24, 2021 flight, “careless or reckless so as to endanger the life or property of another” and revoked his license. 

Jacob recently posted a second video called “The FAA Took My Pilot License,” which shows him flying from a rural area to town with another person, presumably another pilot, to mail his certificate to the FAA. In the video, Jacob notes interest in the FAA’s action and the crash from a variety of news outlets. 

“I didn’t think that posting a video of an adventure gone wrong would ruffle so many feathers,” he says on the video. “The aviation community has been pretty tough on me.” He also sends his love to the pilot community and promotes his “Always Wear Your Parachute” T-shirts to raise money for attorney fees. He alleges that he has been put on an FBI terrorist list. 

The FAA lists a number of reasons for revoking Jacob’s license in its April 1 letter obtained by Aviation Week Network. 

Before departing from Lompac, California, Jacob attached multiple cameras to the aircraft, including one pointed at the propeller, to record video footage during flight and donned a sports parachute backpack, the FAA says. 

During the flight, Jacob opened the pilot door before claiming the engine had failed and jumped without attempting to call Air Traffic Control to declare an emergency, the FAA says. Before jumping, Jacob also did not to attempt to restart the engine or look for areas to land safely, despite multiple areas within gliding range in which a safe landing could have been made, it says.

Jacob, shown on the video wearing an “Adventured” T-shirt, jumped from the aircraft while holding a camera attached to a selfie stick, recording the aircraft during his descent. After the crash, shown on the video, he recovered the cameras attached to the aircraft and disposed of the wreckage, the FAA says.

Besides the jump and crash of the aircraft, the video also shows Jacob’s landing, finding the crumpled aircraft and his hours-long hike through the forest. Jacob alleges in the video that he always flies wearing a parachute. After being rescued by a farmer, Jacob says, “Thank you God. Thank you, universe. Thank you, higher power for watching over me.”

The FAA had stern words for Jacob in the letter. 

“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 letter to Jacob says. “The Acting Administrator finds that you lack the qualifications necessary to hold your Private Pilot Certificate and any other airman certificates issued to you.”  

The FAA said Jacob must surrender his certificates immediately or be subject to legal enforcement action. He also may not apply for a new certificate for a year. Jacob also has the right to file an appeal, it says. 

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.


Allowed to apply for a new license after one year? You must be kidding!
Destroyed an 80-year old Taylorcraft. For who; for what? I hope the US Forest service goes after him for hazarding a catastrophe: intentionally crashing a gasoline-powered aircraft in a National Forest. Especially given California's history of wildfires.
The right to legal defense is truly a hallmark of our great country. However, I must agree with the aforementioned, “one year” from an administrative decision making point of view, seems absurd. The pilot does not appear to have the capacity to make sound aeronautical decisions. Why would it not be prudent to ban him for life, then allow a jury of his peers the responsibility of absolution. I sincerely hope this event has no broad stroke impact on the pilot community at large. Vr, John K Hayden Jr.