Connect with us


Virtual Influencers in the Real World | March 2023



virtual influencer Imma


The next time you buy a flashy new outfit after browsing Instagram, or tap the heart button on a particularly compelling TikTok video, you might discover that the person who posted it isn’t real—and you might not care at all.

That is, if virtual influencers (and their creators) get their way.

A virtual influencer is a digital personality that posts on social media to build an audience of passionate fans, just like a human influencer; at least, that’s how it seems. In reality, a team of humans uses computer-generated imagery (CGI), motion capture, and marketing magic to give a digital avatar a voice, a life, and a brand.

The result makes virtual influencers seem like, well, real people. Just like human influencers, virtual ones share behind-the-scenes posts about their ‘lives’, as well as promoting their favorite products and brands. Virtual influencers usually sound and/or look like humans—or cartoonish representations of them—though they don’t try too hard to hide the fact they are artificial.

Not that audiences seem to care. Top virtual influencers like Lil Miquela, Lu, Noonoouri, and Hatsune Miku have millions of social media followers and routinely post about their lives, feelings, and views. Their followers appear as invested in their lives as they are in the lives of human influencers, if the tens of thousands of likes and comments on virtual influencer posts are any indication.

Virtual influencers even turn digital clout into real-world cash. It’s common for virtual influencers to work hand-in-hand with brands to star in their advertisements and promote their products. At least one has even been signed by a talent agency that usually works with human actors and artists.

Figure. Virtual influencer Miquela Sousa.

“The use of virtual influencers has permeated across many industries, including fashion, beauty, entertainment, and electronics,” says Pierre Benckendorff, a researcher at Australia’s University of Queensland who studies virtual influencers. “And the adoption of virtual influencers is likely to grow in service industries such as tourism and education.”

Virtual influencers are challenging notions of what is possible with technology, and what it means to form relationships online.

In the process, virtual influencers are challenging notions of what is possible with technology — and what it means to form relationships online.

Back to Top

Virtual Influencers, Real-World Impact

Today, virtual influencers are particularly popular in Asia; in China, Japan, and South Korea, they sell products and star in advertisements. Part of their appeal is that they can be adapted to any country or market, says Li Xie-Carson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland who has researched virtual influencers with Benckendorff.

“Virtual influencers can be tailored for different target markets and cultural tastes. They can be human-like, animal-like, 2D-animated, or 3D-animated,” she says. “This versatility means they can be designed to appeal to audiences in most countries.”

Today’s virtual influencers are not chatbots; they are fully-fledged visual and conversational personas. They sport complete visual bodies and faces, unique personalities, and entire backstories. Behind these influencers are scores of technical and marketing experts who script the influencer’s engagement and create the content that features them in real-world settings.

One of the most famous virtual influencers hailing from the U.S. is known as Lil Miquela. A virtual human who looks like a 19-year-old girl, Lil Miquela posts photos of herself doing everything from eating at restaurants to flying on planes to hanging out with virtual (and real) friends. With almost three million followers on Instagram, each of her posts gets tens of thousands of likes, and hundreds of comments. Through it all, Lil Miquela and her handlers at Brud, the media agency that created her, make no effort to hide the fact she’s not human. (Her Instagram profile says she’s a “19-year-old Robot living in L.A.”)

Fans are not bothered that Lil Miquela is not real; neither are brands. Lil Miquela has become a brand ambassador for luxury brands like Prada and Dior, as well as auto company MINI, promoting their (very real) products to millions of (very real) fans. These partnerships are so lucrative that Lil Miquela has even been signed as talent by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), a major talent agency.

Another major virtual influencer, the Brazil-based Lu do Magalu, often is referred to simply as Lu. While Lil Miquela works with brands, Lu was created by one; she’s the virtual face of Magazine Luiza, a collection of Brazilian companies that includes Magalu, Brazil’s largest retailer. Lu has more than 25 million followers across social media accounts, driven by massive popularity on TikTok. Like any human brand mascot, Lu does her fair share of promoting the company’s products, but she also acts like an actual, approachable person, sharing mundane details about her day, engaging with followers, and even starting conversations around social issues like LGBT rights.

By some counts, hundreds of high-profile virtual influencers exist today, all made possible by a clever mix of advanced technology and human ingenuity.

Other notable virtual influencers act similarly. Noonoouri is a cartoonish virtual influencer who promotes fashion brands worldwide. Hatsune Miku is a popular anime-style virtual influencer who promotes products in the Japanese music industry and performs in virtual concerts. By some counts, hundreds of high-profile virtual influencers exist today, and all of them are made possible by a clever mix of advanced technology and human ingenuity.

Back to Top

From CGI to AI

Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela and Lu are created using the same technologies that make the latest Hollywood blockbusters or mega-hit video games possible.

Explains Benckendorff, three-dimensional (3D) rendering software and motion capture technologies commonly used in gaming and movie productions “are now employed to produce virtual influencers.” That includes tools like MetaHuman, an application from Unreal Engine, a popular graphics engine, that enables users to create photorealistic virtual humans.

Now artificial intelligence (AI) is coming into play to make virtual influencer creation easier, according to Peter Bentley, a professor of computer science at University College London in the U.K. who researches AI. Bentley says highly skilled professionals can use advanced motion capture and CGI to make virtual influencers look hyper-realistic, but deep learning, a sophisticated AI technique, is lowering the level of technical skill needed to produce a real-looking virtual influencer.

“As deep learning methods rapidly mature, we are increasingly able to generate any image we like by replacing existing features with machine learning-generated imagery,” says Bentley. “That makes the process of producing virtual humans even easier, and soon anyone will be able to do this.”

Figure. Noonoouri

Soon, AI could also change how virtual influencers behave.

Today, most virtual influencers are entirely controlled by humans in graphic design and content development, says Benckendorff; their actions and behaviors are entirely scripted. However, as artificial intelligence continues to grow more powerful, autonomous AI-powered influencers could emerge, with the potential to act on their own to engage with audiences online.

“In the near future, AI influencers may be able to gather user information through natural language processing, image recognition, and speech recognition; create autonomic posts and reply to the audience based on consumer sentiment through problem-solving, and continually improve the interactive process through machine learning,” Benckendorff says.

Deep fakes, in the form of hyper-realistic AI representations of faces, likely also will play a starring role in creating the next generation of virtual influencers. Today, virtual influencers like Lil Miquela and Lu are quite obviously CGI. Tomorrow, with sophisticated AI visuals and behaviors, as well as marketing-savvy human handlers, virtual influencers may be completely indistinguishable from real people, says Zahy Ramadan, a marketing professor at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon.

Figure. Hatsune Miku

“The virtual lives of virtual influencers are being smartly developed through their omnipresence across social platforms and featuring them next to real people and celebrities,” Ramadan says. “The anthropomorphization is so extreme that many followers [won’t realize] they’re not real.”

Back to Top

Gen Z’s Love Affair with Virtual Influencers

To some, the concept of real humans following virtual influencers might seem ludicrous, but not to certain generations. Generation Z, those born in the late 1990s to the early 2010s, are embracing virtual influencers, says Mona Mrad, a marketing professor at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. “This generation seems to be well-connected to these influencers, to the extent that they are forming emotional and mental relationships with them,” she says. “They reveal feelings of love and attachment to them.” In some cases, they even perceive virtual influencers to be more reliable than human ones.

These human-virtual influencer bonds are mainly formed on Instagram and TikTok, says Ramadan. The more the virtual influencer is anthropomorphized, he says, the more followers become engaged and emotionally attached to them.

Virtual influencers have already cast their spell on Gen Z, a spell that could grow more powerful if technologies like augmented reality and the metaverse take off. In fact, virtual influencers could become a primary way for us to engage with companies if we spend significant amounts of time in virtual environments, says Sean Sands, a marketing professor at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology.

Figure. Lu of Magalu

“We may all have our own avatar and interact with virtual entities regularly,” Sands says, “so interacting with a service associate that is virtual will seem pretty commonplace.”

Xie-Carson expects interactions between humans and virtual influencers to grow, both online and offline. Even if we don’t spend our lives in the metaverse, virtual influencers have the potential to pop up anywhere we live, work, and shop, thanks to extended reality technology, she says.

“It is possible that technological advances will allow us to get up close and personal with virtual influencers at events, stores, and even schools.”

* Further Reading

Hsu, T.,
These Influencers Aren’t Flesh and Blood, Yet Millions Follow Them. The New York Times “June 17, 2019”;

Kuch, T.,
The rise of computer-generated, artificially intelligent influencers. New Scientist “June 8, 2022”;

Xie-Carson, L.,
Fake it to Make it: Exploring the use of Virtual Influencers in Tourism. YouTube “Aug. 21, 2022”;

Back to Top


Logan Kugler is a freelance technology writer based in Tampa, FL, USA. He has written for over 60 major publications.

©2023 ACM  0001-0782/23/03

Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and full citation on the first page. Copyright for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or fee. Request permission to publish from [email protected] or fax (212) 869-0481.

The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2023 ACM, Inc.

No entries found

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address


Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram. Do restaurants benefit?



Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram. Do restaurants benefit?

The Cake Out Maryland bakery in Columbia was a labor of love for sisters Sade and Azia Castro.

Between traveling nurse gigs, Sade Castro would take orders over social media for the sweets otherwise found only in the Philippines, advertising flavors from ube flan to chiffon cake with a milky caramel glaze. But few outside their community knew of the shop.

Castro saw foodies on Instagram in videos that garnered thousands of likes and followers. More people had to be searching for “Asian tastes” in Maryland and Virginia, she thought. Why couldn’t her cakes be the next viral sensation?

So she reached out to a food influencer.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Over the last few years in Baltimore, the practice of connecting restaurants and burgeoning food businesses with social media personalities has become increasingly common, according to public relations executive Dave Seel, who has built an arm of his Blue Fork marketing firm for the task.

“There can be a dearth of coverage for certain subsections of the city,” he said. “Influencers have taken up that space and used it to build followership.”

Baltimore is a small city, especially in food media. There is no Eater, Infatuation or Michelin Guide. People are thirsting for creative, diverse angles, Seel said.

With the rise of food influencers in Baltimore comes an opportunity to provide platforms to communities, voices and cuisines that have been traditionally alienated. But this wave of restaurant marketing has also raised questions about the authenticity of social media tastemakers and where the quest for that viral video leaves small businesses, many of whom are fighting for survival following the pandemic.

Marketing is an extension of community building, Seel said, and to that end, some restaurants have modified their aesthetics to attract new customers over social media.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Seel cited BLK Swan in Harbor East as a prime example for its well-advertised community events and “selfie walls.” Customers cannot visit Gunther and Company on Toone Street without taking photos by its “Instagram-worthy living green wall,” he said. At times, he has recommended that restaurants invest in a “particularly ooey, gooey picture-worthy” dish.

It does not always go viral or attract the attention needed to generate business, but it’s an increasingly popular strategy.

“Has it eclipsed all other strategies? I don’t necessarily think so. … But do [influencers] have a seat at the table? Absolutely,” Seels said. “You can’t ignore it.”

‘It’s a marketing job’

Tim “Chyno” Chin, also known as “the Baltimore foodie,” is a well-known food influencer in the area. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner)

Tim “Chyno” Chin always dreamed of hosting his own television show about food.

He grew up an army brat, born in Germany and shuttled between bases before landing in Sandtown-Winchester, a Baltimore food desert. It was not “lavish,” he said; food was utilitarian and purchased with food stamps. There was no one like him on TV: Black, Chinese and gay. But as Chin remembers, he had a “charisma” that allowed him to persevere.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Chin now considers himself part of a “freshman class” of influencers who rose to foodie fame before the local restaurant industry came to embrace the world of social media marketing. Until about six years ago, eateries looking for publicity were beholden to legacy media platforms. The big players trusted to show Baltimoreans where to eat were radio personalities like Downtown Diane and Dara Cooks, he said.

“We slowly started replacing that,” Chin said. “They didn’t understand [social media] was going to catch on the way it did.”

Chin had worked in kitchens and as a server, so he believed he could relay the importance of a social media presence to the old guard of small businesses. He started by running the social media of the former Joe Squared in Power Plant Live, and then shooting food pictures at the now-shuttered Pinch Dumplings in Mount Vernon Marketplace in exchange for free meals.

“I would post something and then a restaurant would sell out of it,” he said, calling it “the Chyno effect” — a byproduct of his time hosting a YouTube show. He’s now garnered followers as “The Baltimore Foodie” and “The Boy with the Blue Beard,” building a more-than-135,000-person Instagram following and appearing as a host for the “Fresh, Fried and Crispy” show on Netflix.

“I’ve got an Emmy waiting for me somewhere,” he told The Banner.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

To show restaurants he was serious, Chin drew up a rate sheet for his services. “A lot of influencers have it,” he said. The sheet explains an influencer’s cost per post, Instagram reel, links, video and stories. “Everything has a monetized value.” Chyno did not say how much he charges, but as his audience across platforms rises, so does his value.

“People don’t understand this is hard,” he said. “You have to constantly evolve with technology, learn algorithms, follow these trends. … It’s a marketing job.”

TikTok celebrities like MMA fighter turned foodie Keith Lee, who recently made news for a video critiquing the service at an Atlanta restaurant, can change an eatery’s reputation with a single post.

Anybody can call themselves an influencer, Seel said, but “it doesn’t mean they have a core following or an engaged following that really creates the marketing effect that can get restaurateurs that return on investment.”

‘It’s such a difficult thing to decide what you’re worth’

Rachel Lipton smiles for a portrait in her kitchen.
Rachel Lipton is the local creator behind the food Instagram @liketheteaeats. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

The world of social media marketing is still largely uncharted. The Federal Trade Commission has codified guidelines on sponsorship transparency for influencers, going as far as to issue $50,000 penalties for failures to adequately disclose paid partnerships.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

According to estimates from Insider Intelligence, more than $6.1 billion is expected to be spent nationwide this year on influencer marketing.

Local influencer Rachel Lipton learned about rate sheets herself in 2017 when 7-Eleven offered her $100 to post its iced tea on her “like the tea eats” Instagram page.

“My wife pulled me aside and said, ‘I think you should be charging these large businesses,’” said Lipton, who already had a full-time job. “It’s such a difficult thing to decide what you’re worth.”

Her pricing varies. Video content took far longer to edit, so she charged more. Her rates also went up depending on the size of the company inquiring about a post. She also is particular about who she will work with — or not. She said she will never post about Chick-fil-A due to their alleged culture of homophobia. And since news broke in 2020 of Ouzo Bay allegedly discriminating against a Black woman and her son, along with follow-up complaints against the owners, Atlas Restaurant Group, Lipton has promised not to promote dining at their restaurants.

Kimberly Kong, the creator of a series of food photography pages known as Nomtastic Baltimore and Nomtastic D.C., has amassed more than 100,000 followers, in part, for making a point of dining at Asian-inspired small businesses in Maryland and Virginia.

“I let [businesses] know that you’re only going to get featured if I genuinely like your food. And it’s going to be disclosed that I was invited and food was comped,” Kong said. Yet she cringes at the “influencer” title and the lack of authenticity it evokes. A large number of her posts were not paid for, she said, and were born out of an interest in wanting to try new spots.

Kong also does not charge small businesses for promotion, citing pandemic-era losses as a reason for many of them to be skeptical of investing in the world of social media marketing. Chin and Lipton also said they offered reduced rates to try and boost local spots.

“I understand the restaurants’ point of view with how slim the margins are and how tough it is right now,” Kong said.

‘Every time we posted something, it just got sold’

1701865565 522 Baltimore food influencers do it for the ‘gram Do restaurants
Sade Castro adds toppings to Cake Out’s rocky road option. The ube cakes she makes with her sister and business partner at the Columbia business are also on the counter. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Sade Castro never met the Instagram celebrity that sparked an interest in her Maryland shop.

Neither did her sister and business partner, who repeatedly called Castro “crazy” for inviting someone with more than 100,000 followers to sample their cakes. For three years, the two-person bakery had sold the desserts almost exclusively to a group of Filipino moms over Facebook — and even then, they struggled to meet demand.

“I trust that you really believe in your food recs and that you’ve actually tried and loved every food post,” Castro wrote to Kong on Sept. 9. “With that, I would like you to try our Filipino-style cakes.”

Shortly after, Castro was leaving a sampler of nine cakes at Kong’s door.

On Sept. 21, Kong posted footage of her digging into a gooey can of chocolate cake and slowly slicing into the ube flan’s purple center.

“I was at work when my phone started to go off,” Castro said. Within a day, the video had gone viral. The number of people viewing the bakery’s Instagram page rose by over 900% in a matter of hours, and then again by another 2,000% by the end of the week. About 3,000 new people had followed their rarely updated Instagram by the end of September.

“Why would you do this?” Castro remembered her sister asking. “It’s just the two of us, we’re baking from home, and we have full-time jobs.”

The bakery that had provided roughly 120 cakes each year catering to their Filipino neighbors had received hundreds of orders in a matter of days. “We were messaging people saying we don’t have [the cakes],” she said.

Unable to meet demand, they started a lottery. By the end of October, the attention faded some, with viewers of their content down by 42%, according to Castro’s Instagram analytics. Still, the success of the post presented an opportunity for Castro’s self-proclaimed “side hustle.” “Every time we posted something, it just got sold,” she said.

But a restaurant has to be ready. Seel explained that influencers will often receive a tailored experience: sampler cakes, private dining and even custom sandwiches. The business has to be able to execute at the same level for the regular customers, too.

In October, Fells Point eatery Little Donna’s claimed to be “screwed” after a New York Times critic placed the business on the paper’s list of most exciting places to eat. The now-shuttered Local Oyster also faltered in the spotlight after an influencer-promoted sandwich spurred high demand and community backlash, forcing it to be 86ed from the menu.

“All of a sudden, there can be an onslaught of people and it’s hard to keep up,” Seel said.

Castro has no regrets about Kong’s effect on her business. As of November, Cake Out is searching for ways to increase output and serve the Filipino neighbors who had leaned on them for their traditional holiday treats. Plans to move to a larger kitchen are in the works, due to the support from new customers, Castro said.

“For now, we are grateful.”

Matti Gellman is a Food Reporter for The Baltimore Banner. 

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


The Age of Virtual Influencers is Coming, Which Will Bring a Range of New Considerations for Brands



The Age of Virtual Influencers is Coming, Which Will Bring a Range of New Considerations for Brands

While the current spate of generative AI tools are interesting, and are already changing discovery behaviors and interactive processes, they’re really only scratching the surface of what’s possible, and are far from actual “intelligence” as the AI name suggests.

Indeed, most of these initial models are data matching tools, able to predict elements of text and images based on the most likely sequencing, by applying probability to huge datasets. And they’re becoming increasingly at doing just that, but they’re not “thinking” as such, these systems are not developing new concepts all on their own, and there’s no intent or reasoning behind those matches, other than mathematical likelihoods.

That’s the next level of AI, which many experts have expressed concern about, in that such systems will one day have the capacity to think independently, and potentially exceed our own mental capacity as a result. Though creating a digital “brain” as it were is still a long way from being a reality.

But even so, through probability alone, we’re also just touching on the expanded possibilities of generative systems, with the latest advances now pointing to a whole new phase of digital creation, which could cut many humans out of the process.

Last week, a Spanish ad agency made headlines after it revealed that it had created an AI character, which is now earning $US10,000 per month from brand contracts.

Aitana requires no payment, has no qualms about what she promotes, and is available 24/7. And she looks real, and no doubt many of her 200,000 Instagram followers were not aware that she doesn’t, in fact, exist.

You can see the appeal of virtual influencers in this respect, and Aitana is not the first to build a huge following, and certainly won’t be the last.

Even before the arrival of Dall-E and Midjourney, virtual models were already gaining traction, including characters like lilmiquela (2.7m IG followers), noonoouri (424k followers), and Shudu (241k).

More advanced creation tools are now making these virtual identities even more life-like, while the next phase of digital animation could take them to another level of realism, in replicating human trends.

This video, shared as part of Alibaba’s “Animate Anyone” project highlights how advanced image recognition and video sequencing can now replicate actual human movement, to an increasingly realistic degree.

It’s still not perfect, but again, we’re really only at the start of this process, and you can see how, as these systems continue to evolve, virtual influencers, in both still and video form, are set to become much bigger elements of online interaction.

Deepfake characters, where celebrity faces are superimposed over real actors, are another aspect, and another vector for security concerns, but fully virtual creations, animated from still images, would be cheaper to use, faster to customize, and easier for any brand to create, based on templated actions, animations, and movements.

And they are coming. Every platform is already rolling out AI labelling requirements to get ahead of this, but realistically, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to know whether you’re looking at a real person, or an AI creation, with the blurred details and distortions rapidly being ironed out by newer processes and systems.

Sure, right now, it’s easy to spot those AI-generated promotional photos showing up within your Facebook feed ads. But refinements are steadily bringing these tools closer to reality, and ironically, taking consumers further from it at the same time.

So what does that mean for your marketing efforts?

Well, if you’re camera shy, and have reservations about making video content, soon, you might not have to, with viable alternative options to create digitally animated content. You’ll have to disclose such, but realistically, it’s the concept that will resonate with viewers, not the composition, and if you can avoid the tell-tale markers of current generative AI imaginings, it could be an avenue for your future development.

Though it could also be bad news for human influencers, who are just now having their moment in the sun, as more brands come to realize their worth in reaching certain audiences.

The “Creator Economy” in this context could be set for a rapid recession, as even short-form videos become increasingly AI-simulated, sparking all new trends in promotions, with brands happily welcoming the cost savings.

I do think that human creativity will remain an essential, and that no matter how realistic your AI creations are, you’ll still need human-centered emotion at the core of any promotion.

And until machines can actually think like us, that will remain the key differentiator, though the actual process of expressing your message looks set to change significantly.

This will be a key trend to keep tabs on in the new year.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


US YouTuber who staged plane crash jailed for six months



Trevor Jacob staged a dramatic plane crash that saw him bail out high over Southern California in a bid to garner viewers

Trevor Jacob staged a dramatic plane crash that saw him bail out high over Southern California in a bid to garner viewers – Copyright AFP/File Lionel BONAVENTURE


A daredevil YouTuber who deliberately crashed his plane to boost the number of viewers on his channel and then lied about it to investigators has been jailed for six months after reaching a plea deal, US authorities said Monday.

In a video of the event entitled “I crashed my airplane,” Trevor Jacob appears to experience engine trouble while flying over southern California in November 2021.

The dramatic footage, viewed millions of times on YouTube, shows Jacob, now 30, ejecting from the single-engine plane — selfie stick in hand — and parachuting into the dense vegetation of Los Padres National Forest.

Cameras placed all over the aircraft show its out-of-control descent into the forest, and its eventual crash landing.

Jacob, a former Olympic snowboarder, films himself hiking to the wreckage where he appears dismayed to discover the water he packed has disappeared.

He does, however, have the presence of mind to recover the footage from cameras.

He then documents an apparently arduous trek through undergrowth to reach safety.

In the weeks after the incident, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched a probe into the crash, and Jacob was ordered to preserve the wreckage.

The YouTuber told officials he did not know where the plane had gone down.

“In fact, on December 10, 2021, Jacob and a friend flew by helicopter to the wreckage site,” the US District Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said Monday.

“There, Jacob used straps to secure the wreckage, which the helicopter lifted and carried to Rancho Sisquoc in Santa Barbara County, where it was loaded onto a trailer attached to Jacob’s pickup truck.”

The remains of the single engine plane were cut into small pieces and dumped in trash bins in and around Lompoc City Airport, in a bid to hide evidence of the crash.

The FAA, the body that regulates flying in the United States, yanked Jacob’s pilot’s license in April 2022.

When investigators closed in, Jacob cut a deal and agreed to plead guilty to one count of destruction and concealment with the intent to obstruct a federal investigation.

“Jacob lied to federal investigators when he submitted an aircraft accident incident report that falsely indicated that the aircraft experienced a full loss of power,” the US District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

“[Jacob] most likely committed this offense to generate social media and news coverage for himself and to obtain financial gain,” federal prosecutors said.

“Nevertheless, this type of ‘daredevil’ conduct cannot be tolerated.”

Jacob’s original video, along with several others he posted after the escapade, have now been removed from YouTube, but a copy can be seen here:

Pilots and aviation experts have been immensely critical of Jacob in the almost two years since the video was initially published.

Many noted that Jacob had failed to take even elementary steps to restart his plane’s apparently troubled engine.

Others pointed out that he could easily have safely glided the plane to a landing spot, and that wearing a parachute while flying a small aircraft was highly unusual.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading