A YouTuber who intentionally crashed an airplane for views will plead guilty to obstructing a federal investigation by cleaning up the site of the crash, US prosecutors say.
Trevor Jacob, 29, posted the video of the plane crash to YouTube in December 2021. It has over 2.9 million views to date.
In a plea agreement, he said he filmed the video as part of a product sponsorship deal.
He could face up to 20 years in prison.
The 29-year-old pilot and skydiver has agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation, the US justice department said in a statement on Thursday.
In November 2021, Mr Jacob left a Santa Barbara, California airport on a solo flight with cameras mounted on his plane. Along with the cameras, Mr Jacob took a parachute with him, as well as a selfie stick.
He “did not intend to reach his destination, but instead planned to eject from his aircraft during the flight and video himself parachuting to the ground and his airplane as it descended and crashed”, the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said.
The plane crashed into the Los Padres National Forest 35 minutes after takeoff. He hiked to the site and recovered the footage.
Some YouTube viewers were sceptical of the crash, noting that Mr Jacob was already wearing a parachute and made no attempt to land the plane safely.
He reported the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board, who said he was responsible for preserving the wreckage. According to the plea agreement, Mr Jacob later claimed he did not know the location of the site.
He did, and returned by helicopter and secured and removed the wreckage, which he later destroyed, the statement says.
Mr Jacob is expected to make his initial court appearance in the coming weeks. His pilot’s licence was revoked last year.