Tracey Dearing reports:
Long-time Living Choice Kawana Island resident, Jake Jacobsen, sat down with me to share a few tales of his interesting life, including flying Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip when they visited Australia.
Jake recounts, “The 34 Squadron is responsible for providing safe, secure and timely flights for visiting Prime Ministers from other countries, Royals and dignitaries when in Australia. It is still operative in Canberra today.”
As Commander of the 34 Squadron, the VIP squadron in Canberra, Jake flew many VIPs, including members of the Royal family and Prime Ministers. Jake was in charge of 138 people and seven aircraft.
“Malcom Fraser was our Prime Minister, and I was his primary pilot. One benefit of having that job was getting two invitations per year to dine at the Prime Minister's house with Carroll, Jake’s wife and the Governor General.”
Between 1980 and 1983, Jake served as the captain of the Royal Tours, which included two trips to Australia by the Queen and two by Prince Charles, one of which was quite extensive. A Royal tour booklet was created for each of the Royal tours. It contained a complete schedule for every day.
The first time Jake flew the Queen, she presented him with a signed photo of herself and Prince Phillip. The second time she presented Jake with an embossed cuff link leather case.
People have asked Jake if he was nervous when flying the Queen around on her Royal Tours of Australia. “I had a simple answer, and that was every time I got airborne my aim was to put myself back on the ground in one piece and anyone hanging on behind me, back on ground too.”
Jake recalls that when the Queen or any dignitary came on board his aircrafts, once the doors closed, they become totally relaxed. “There is no formality, no media – it’s a good thing they can do that.”
On one flight with the Queen, Jake received an invitation to come to the back of the plane and enjoy a cup of tea with the Queen and Prince Phillip. “There was Prince Phillip, very relaxed with his feet up on the table and the Queen equally at ease. She did not talk in her “Queen voice” that she normally used, she talked in a normal way. She asked me about my children, and I told her that I met the Queen Mother while working in the UK. We had a real conversation.”
“Obviously, as the aircraft commander, I had to leave the other pilot up in the cockpit by himself. I was a bit hesitant to stay too long but I will never forget it. It was a highlight. There are not too many people who can say they flew the Queen and now the King as well. Not bad for a bloke who grew up in Kingaroy.”
It’s also a great achievement for a boy who had a dream to be a pilot in the Air Force, who left school at age 15, attended night school while his mates were out partying, obtained his pilot’s licence and was accepted by the RAAF where he served his country for the next 26 years.
Some time was spent flying the Caribou aircraft through PNG and Vietnam and then he transferred to the Macchi trainer jet aircraft as a flying instructor, later working as a pilot examiner. Jake was also fortunate to have an exchange post with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, which saw him responsible for instructing pilots on Gnat and Jet Provost jet aircraft. After another year of study, Jake was promoted to Wing Commander.
Jake’s final flight as Wing Commander with the RAAF was in 1983 and it was a poignant night as this was the night Malcom Fraser lost the prime ministership to Bob Hawke. Jake flew the former Prime Minister back to Melbourne.
We thank you for your service, Jake.