• Sat. Mar 25th, 2023


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A YouTuber Purposely Crashed His Plane in California, F.A.A. Says

Mr. Jacob said in a statement in January that he had flown that day to spread the ashes of his best friend, Johnny Strange, over the top of a Sierra Nevada mountain. Mr. Strange died in 2015 while BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which people parachute from a fixed object or structure, such as a cliff.

In the video, Mr. Jacob unleashes a flurry of expletives when the propeller stops spinning. He opens the plane’s door and jumps out with a parachute, abandoning the plane as he descends toward the forest, a selfie stick in hand to record it all.

“I’m just so happy to be alive,” he says after landing in prickly brush. He documented his hike through the forest, which, he says in the video, lasted at least six hours until a farmer found him at dusk. Earlier, he had found the wrecked, mangled plane in a thicket of dried shrubs.

Almost immediately after he posted the video on Dec. 24, viewers and aviation experts expressed doubts online over his portrayal of the crash. It was orchestrated, they claimed, for views and likes, and several steps Mr. Jacob took, such as wearing a parachute in the first place, were evidence of a preconceived publicity stunt.

Mr. Jacob turned off comments for the video.

The F.A.A. agreed about the parachute in its letter, which it released in response to a request from The New York Times, and pointed out other revealing details that officials had uncovered during an investigation.

“During this flight, you opened the left side pilot door before you claimed the engine had failed,” the F.A.A. wrote.

Before jumping out of the plane, the agency said, Mr. Jacob made no attempt to contact air traffic control on the emergency frequency, did not try to restart the engine by increasing airflow over the propeller and failed to look for a place to safely land, “even though there were multiple areas within gliding range in which you could have made a safe landing.”