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Peter Jacobs

Peter JacobsPete Jacobs was born in St. Albert in 1919 into a family of 15 children. He attended technical school in Edmonton, studying drafting and journeyman mechanics before going to work for his brother at a machine shop in Fort Saskatchewan. Jacobs enlisted in the air force in 1940 and was put to work in Lethbridge and Calgary as a gunnery instructor. Jacobs was awarded the British Empire Medal for his contribution of a deflection device used on military aircraft. He built the mechanism to solve the problem of gunmen accidentally firing on their own aircraft, designing the system so the guns would automatically rise when engaged, eliminating gunfire directed at the tail of the plane.

In 1948 Jacobs helped to build the first chairlift on Mt. Norquay in Banff. He continued working as a machinist and welder for many years, eventually working out of his basement filling orders for large oil companies.

Jacobs beside the JaycopterIt was during a hospital stay for an injured knee in the 1950s that Jacobs would come up with the idea for his most successful invention. Incorporating the mechanics of a toy helicopter into his idea, he drew up the plans for the Jaycopter: a full-scale replica aircraft that simulated the movements of a real helicopter.

Although the invention was initially intended to help train new pilots, Jacobs and his brother Leo found greater success manufacturing an eight-seat and 16-seat version meant as a carnival ride. This larger model was showcased at the 1964-65 New York World Trades Fair.

Jacobs died of cancer in 1986.

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