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Obituary: Jake McLaughlin - RAF squadron leader who carried out tests on ejector seats

RAF Squadron Leader Jake McLaughlin, who has died at 83, was a skilled parachutist who in his time carried out tests on ejector seats built for combat aircraft at a branch of Martin Baker, one of whose plants was at Langford Lodge on the Lough Neagh shore.

Once when he was a dispatcher in a Fairfield C119 aircraft he saved the life of a soldier whose static line became entangled with his equipment as he jumped. Jake immediately seized the man who would have fallen to his death, and held him with one hand until they were hauled back inside.

McLaughlin, born in Co Laois in the Republic, joined the RAF as a 17-year-old after finding the Army recruiting office in the same street closed.

He was such a natural parachutist that he was quickly promoted as an instructor and wound up in the celebrated RAF Falcon Display team where he set world records for free-fall jumps.

Altogether Jake made 1,213 jumps during his career from 59 types of aircraft. As C.O. of No 58 Squadron he served in Belsize and also in Northern Ireland during the troubles where he had an affection for RAF Aldergrove where his photograph in jumping gear hung.

Jake McLaughlin whose wife Betty died 10 years ago, is survived by two sons.

After leaving the RAF in 1984, he served with the Sultan of Oman's forces as a commander.

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