Trevor Jacob’s Crash Analysis

Published on Author JFLeave a comment

Trevor Jacob is a “daredevil” who lost his best friend in a BASE jumping accident some years back.

He is flying a 1940 airplane which then has an engine out.

The YouTube video he posted is of that event (it has been edited before so the version you see may not be the one I saw, e.g. the ad for the wallet is no longer there).

There are a lot of reaction videos from other pilots regarding this event. I am not a pilot, but am an aviation enthusiast, so I spent a little time pondering this video and mapping out some locations that might be worthwhile to review:

Items of note:

  • He stops at the runup area and foreshadows his flight, including showing ashes of his friend and what is clearly an ad for a stupid wallet.
  • He has a total of 5 GoPros in the plane (pre-war TaylorCraft BL-65, Tail N29508): Wingtip, elevator, interior facing back, interior facing forward. Since the video is cut from all except the interior facing forward we can assume it was the only camera to be destroyed.
  • In the beginning of his flight the door is closed, latch down
  • At the 1:00 minute mark, just before the engine quits, the door is open. Perhaps he opened it when a problem started? This seems unlikely because his vocalizations appear to begin as the engine cuts out and not before. I would think a pilot would include the runup to and the attempts to mitigate the situation in any video “tutorial” as to what to do and not to do in a situation like this, especially when departing a very light airplane that is obviously able to glide.

This is what is to his left

This spot is just past the campsite. According to Google Maps, it’s over a 1000′ long (about 4 miles away).

  • He exits the plane and you can clearly see the grassy side V mountains (2:17)

The camera pans and you can then see what is below him, which look like excellent landing spots, at least for a parachute!

At 2:47 he seems to be continuing towards that area (and presumably away from the plane)

He pulls his chute and then watches the plane as it crashes. Note the bald mountain again. Approximate crash location marked.

Approximate Google Maps location https://goo.gl/maps/ghVx4EHSdHec2pmr9

At 4:00, instead of landing at many safer spots to land he elects to land in a wooded site on the same ridge as his plane. Why? Landing in dense brush could easily have speared him or caused other massive trauma. Why would you attempt to land in such an area when there are so many safer options?

  • At 5:02 he asks where he is going to land a freaking plane.
    • I’m not a pilot, but my understanding is that all pilots are always looking for a landing spot, especially when in this kind of terrain? Any pilot wanting to save their life and their aircraft would have a mental map of where they can go before something happens.
  • He then proceeds towards the bald spot to get to his plane. I can understand the morbid curiosity of wanting to see it, but he complained of injuries and poison oak – why go to the plane? Water?
  • At around 6:20 he arrives at the plane and there is nothing (except his cameras which took inside shots of everything, including the crash – the front camera definitely survived since he used the footage). There is nothing, including any leaking gas? The wings are destroyed – surely there would be enough fuel remain in the tanks? The flight originated at Lompoc, just about 32 miles away. He was barely 10 miles into the mountains (a few minutes of flight time) and also under canopy for quite some time, and could easily identify his location because he just came from there (South West).

He then spent time gathering his cameras after being injured and appearing to be desperate for water?

I’ve never been in a plane crash, but here are some additional thoughts:

  • The back facing camera would have video of him attempting to restart the engine or at least check something
  • Wouldn’t he have made calls to ATC informing them that he was going down? He is a trained, licensed pilot.
  • Why wouldn’t he tell ATC that he is leaving the aircraft?
    • Maybe he did, but why would he keep complaining about not being able to make a phone call since ATC would have called rescue already – he knew basically where he was.
  • Why was the door open when the engine stalled? It did not freeze up or have a catastrophic failure because it was windmilling at the end.
  • Why didn’t he pitch for speed?
  • Why did he not even attempt to circle to find a place to land when, clearly, there were some options to his West?
  • Why would you not land in a safer spot if you had a parachute?
    • Was it because what was on those cameras?
  • Why would he say he always flies with a parachute when none of his previous videos show that to be true?
    • Although he is wearing a skydiving chute and not the type for aviation (arguably, why spend the money when you already own one?).
  • Why was there no gas on the ground after only 30 miles and the wings were crumpled?
    • 18 gallons is about max capacity

General Plane Specs

To be taken with a grain of salt since there are so many variants

  • Gross weight 1,500 lb
  • Max/Cruise 120/110 mph
  • Stall 38 mph
  • Range 260 nm
  • Ceiling 17,000 ft
  • Fuel System:

FUEL SYSTEM
The fuel system on the B12 consists of a twelve gallon terneplate gas tank located in the front of the fuselage and a six gallon tank in the right wing. The valve for the wing tank is located above the corresponding door.

The wing tank should be emptied when the main tank is half empty. Fuel is gravity fed to the carburetor. A small copper screen is placed in the outlet of the tank.

Flexible hose connections are used between the tank, filtrap and engine. A small copper line is attached to the filtrap inlet to deliver gas through the primer to the cylinders for starting.

The fuel system on the Model B consists of a twelve gallon tank in the front of the fuselage as standard, and a six gallon auxiliary tank can be installed behind the seat as extra equipment.

Aux switch in off position says “6 Gal ….”. From an exterior shot while taking off it looks like it is a wing tank:

At 6:44 you can see that is popped open. No fuel?

At 6:29 we can see the front of the plane destroyed. Where is that remaining gas?

He then proceeds to stand right where a puddle of gas should be?

Things that make you go hmmmmm….

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