Trevor Jacob competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics on snowboard. Since then he appears to have made his living producing high risk “stunt” videos on Youtube, and possibly leading “adventure” high adrenaline travel tours.
On November 24th, Trevor Jacob claims to have lost the engine in his newly purchased old 1940 Taylorcraft. He then says due to the engine failure, he had to jump out of the airplane and parachute to earth. His plane flew in a slow descent, eventually impacting into a remote ridge. He lands near the wreckage, removes GoPro cameras he had set up on the aircraft, and then hikes out a supposedly perilous path to safety.
- About a month later, he posted a sponsored video on Youtube about this crash. Right away, numerous aviation enthusiasts began to pick apart his video and his story.
- He had a long history of engaging in high-risk stunts and posting videos about them on Youtube.
- He claims he always flies with a parachute – even though he clearly has other videos on Youtube showing him flying aircraft while not wearing a parachute.
- All pilots are trained extensively in engine out operations and are trained to constantly be looking for alternate landing spots in case of an emergency. Your first choice is NOT to jump out of the aircraft.
- Trevor says he is over mountains and there is nowhere to land – except his videos show a broad, dry, gravel riverbed and meadows in valley directly beneath him. A tailwheel Taylorcraft is designed for off field use and can readily set down at low speeds, on unimproved landing surfaces, as found in the backcountry. But he could also have glided for many miles to nearby flat farmland.
- Another pilot flew a comparable aircraft over the crash site, at the same altitude, and flew his plane in a simulated engine out configuration to Santa Ynez Airport and made a successful simulated engine out landing.
- Trevor was wearing a large sport parachute with steerable canopy and not an emergency chute typically worn for emergency egress. This is unusual, in part, because there is very little room inside the Taylorcraft cockpit to accommodate a pilot wearing a parachute. The Taylorcraft pilot manual says seat cushions should be removed if planning to do this.
- At the beginning of the video, Trevor indicates he is headed to Mammoth, California. Several Youtubers who compared images from the video to Google Earth images say the crash site is considerably off of the straight-line path from his departure in Lompoc, CA to Mammoth. Others say he might have planned to fly around the southern end of the Sierras, and then up the east side.
- Trevor outfitted the plane with numerous GoPro cameras (probably five cameras). Mysteriously, while professing a death-defying emergency, he appears to have removed one of the cameras that was mounted in the back cabin, pointed frontwards, and seems to have put it on a selfie stick to take shots as he parachutes downward. He has this in hand, as seen in still frame captures, before he exits the plane.
- The video shows the door latch was in the open position and the door is popped open before the engine quits.
- When the engine “stops”, Trevor begins swearing and acting panicked. His first thought is to prop open the door (a door that, mysteriously appears to be unlatched and open before the engine has stopped). This behavior is not appropriate for a licensed pilot who should have been thoroughly trained in engine out procedures. Further, for a person who routinely engages in high-risk stunts, this behavior makes no sense and appears to be an act. If this fear response is genuine, it may disqualify him from having an FAA medical certificate.
- Trevor proceeds to freefall for about 20 seconds, rather than opening his chute. By opening his steerable canopy earlier, he would have had several thousand additional feet with which to glide to a safe landing area, such as the river valley below.
- Instead, he waits for the plane to crash and then he lands in brush about 1/2 mile from the plane, to which he proceeds to hike and remove his cameras. Some speculate he was aiming for a broad clearing but missed his landing spot, ending up in thick brush, instead. Rather than aim for a lower elevation, safer landing spot, he instead lands near a mountain ridge top, closer to the wreckage, but increasing the difficulty of hiking out to safety. His priority is to get to the aircraft wreckage – where he removes his GoPro cameras. He says he is looking for a water bottle he allegedly has in the aircraft but is unable to find it.
- He then begins a long hike out, saying he has no water and how dangerous this is. He is then supposedly met by two farmers in a pickup truck that give him a ride.
- Youtubers began analyzing the video. They discover the left side step to get into the plane has been removed before this flight. This might be done, perhaps because it might have snagged him when he jumps out of the plane.
- The plane was sold, allegedly, for “spare parts” weeks before Trevor’s crash.
- A Youtuber analyzes still frames and notices the red cylinder head covers, typical of the original Lycoming engines, were, in fact, crudely spray-painted red covers of a less expensive Continental A-65 engine. Per the FAA records, Trevor had just registered the aircraft with the FAA at the end of 2021, and his registration shows it having a Lycoming engine, not a Continental engine.
- Others note unusual bulges in his clothing – including what appear to be a red fire extinguisher poking out the bottom of his right pant leg, and a white extinguisher poking out the bottom of his left pants leg. Others notice unusual bulges in his jacket and one Youtuber finds still frames that look like water has leaked onto his jacket, suggesting there may have been a hidden water bottle or soft water carry system that broke upon his rough parachute landing. After that, he is only seen with his jacket off. Another Youtube video notices the very last frame of video at the point the aircraft crashes – which appears to show a huge spray of water, possibly coming from rupturing the right-wing fuel tank which may be holding water, not fuel.
- Trevor’s jump was on the 50th anniversary of D.B. Coopers famous leap.
- A Santa Barbara newspaper reports a heavy lift helicopter had allegedly been hired to remove the wreckage after the crash. Several pilots over fly the location and are unable to spot wreckage. Another Youtuber finds ADS-B tracking data for an Airbus A-350 helicopter that appears to fly directly to the area of the crash within 2 weeks of the crash. But the ADS-B track is lost (this can occur when an aircraft is low to the terrain) right about where the wreckage was located. The A-350 has sufficient load to have hoisted on a cable and carried the lightweight Taylorcraft wreckage. The wreckage could have been hoisted a short distance to dirt roads where the wreckage could be put into a UHaul or similar truck. We have no way of knowing if this helicopter was involved in recovery of the wreckage nor who might have hired it for the flight. The flight might have nothing to do with Trevor and his aircraft.
- A search for “Trevor Jacob concussion” reveals he claimed, at a Sochi 2014 related Olympics press conference, to have experienced 25 concussions in his snowboard and extreme sports activities. An LA Times story quotes his parents as saying he is exaggerating – it was probably five concussions. In one article, Trevor is quoted as saying he has “memory problems” as a result of his head injuries. There are many media reports of other snowboarders suffering brain injuries. Just search Youtube for “snowboard concussion – YouTube“
I have a private pilot’s certificate but am no longer an active pilot.
I have had multiple traumatic brain injuries including a 5″ skull fracture, and multiple knock-out blows that broke bicycle helmets and other bones, a fall on ice, etc.
Traumatic brain injuries can result in many physical and behavioral issues including memory issues, impulsive behavior, frustration/anger issues, anxiety, depression, brain fog, tinnitus, sensitivity to noise, sensitivity to bright light, headaches, unclear thinking, and behavioral issues such as perseveration (the brain gets stuck in a loop on some topic), rumination (stuck in a loop on a past issue) and much more. A past history of TBI may offer explanations for some behaviors seen in Trevor’s videos.
The general public tends to use the term “concussion” to mean someone was knocked out; however, it is not necessary to be “knocked out” to suffer a brain injury. Your brain is a gelatinous mass. When your head has a hard impact, especially when you are in motion, the skull comes to a stop but the brain mass sloshes onwards. This can result in bruising, bleeding and tearing of tissue.
If you have had head injuries – and especially concussions – this information must be provided to the FAA Medical Examiner. All licensed pilots (ultralight, sport pilots, and glider pilots exempted, mostly) must have a Third-class medical certificate, or higher, in their possession. Some conditions related to TBI are automatic referral of your medical records to the FAA’s Aeromedicine branch for review – the local medical examiner cannot issue a medical certificate in these cases until consulting with FAA staff. Of course, none of us know the details of Trevor’s self-proclaimed head injuries nor what he discussed with his FAA ME. We do not know if he was diagnosed with TBI, and if so, whether or not he obtained appropriate treatment.
None of us can know what happened as we do not have access to necessary information. The FAA and NTSB will go through all details of this crash, all aircraft records, and review Trevor’s medical history. Aircraft accident investigations are extremely thorough – even to the point of checking area seismographs to determine time of impact. Only then will we understand whether this was just an unexpected engine failure and crash or whether there is more to this story.
There are many oddities and discrepancies in Trevor’s story – this will require a lot of work to sort them out and determine which are true or fake – and whether they have any logical or reasonable explanation.
This ABC news report says the accident is being investigated by the FAA and the NTSB (case number WPR22LA049) and without attribution, said that depending on those investigations, this incident may be turned over to the FBI.