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
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.
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
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.
of cancer in 1986.
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