The crash occurred on November 24, though Jacob didn’t publish the video to his channel until December 23. During a flight from Santa Barbara’s Lompoc City Airport to Mammoth Lakes, Jacob’s Taylorcraft BL64 monoplane supposedly lost power, leading Jacob to dip the aircraft downward and jump with a parachute conveniently strapped to his back. But a vast number of people who have viewed and analyzed the video (plus Jacob’s prior behavior) think this isn’t what actually happened.
In the spirit of every average internet user who thinks themselves a career investigator when a new scandal emerges, let’s look at the facts.
Jacob is said to have been heading to Mammoth to snowboard and paraglide. Toward the beginning of his video (which I’m reluctant to link here as it would only amass more views), Jacob indicates that he’s also planning to spread the ashes of his late friend during the flight. To those who believe Jacob’s plane crash was a true accident, this appears to be motive enough for the voyage.
But as Jacob glides above the hills of Los Padres National Forest, the propeller at the front of the plane stops, and the craft itself takes a couple small dips. After a few minutes of flapping the door open and shut (and not performing any attempt at an emergency radio call or an engine restart, as some pilots have pointed out) Jacob decides to abandon ship. Jacob is sure to include multiple angles of his jump in his YouTube video.
How were these angles captured, you ask? Jacob had cameras attached to various parts of the plane’s exterior—one seemingly premeditated “clue” that isn’t quite as suspect as it sounds. Plenty of pilots strap cameras to the exterior of their small aircraft in pursuit of awe-inspiring footage, much like flying a drone. But awe-inspiring footage is Jacob’s forte; his whole YouTube channel revolves around gasp-worthy videos of him skateboarding across the United States or going to prison for train-hopping, which he’s also captured and shared online.
Once he’s on the ground, Jacob immediately heads toward his aircraft, perhaps to retrieve the cameras containing his next YouTube hit. By now Jacob has already shown that he’s bleeding in multiple places and lacks both cell service and drinking water; nevertheless he persists toward his plane. Jacob remains committed to filming his journey through dirt and dry bushes until he reaches a creek, shortly after which he sees a pair of headlights. At the end of the video, Jacob credits the farmers driving the car with saving his life.
Of course, none of this could have happened without the Taylorcraft BL64 itself, which Jacob purchased only a month prior to the crash. Sources say Jacob told the seller he was planning on doing “something special” with the plane; whether Jacob was referring to spreading his friend’s ashes or devising a crash, no one knows.
Luckily that isn’t the internet’s job to find out, either. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are currently investigating the crash. Regardless of whether Jacob’s viewers believe his video was “cringey” or otherwise in bad taste, the FAA and NTSB are tasked with determining whether Jacob violated any flight rules or regulations. The agencies’ verdict could take more than a year to develop, though; in the meantime, it’s another big web debate.