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INTERVIEW


BY BRAD MCNALLY


An Interview With Frank


ROBINSON I had the opportunity to visit the Robinson Helicopter Company and


sit down with its founder Frank Robinson. We talked about his 50 plus years in the helicopter industry, his company and his recent retirement. Frank Robinson grew up on Whidbey Island, Washington.


He


received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington and did graduate studies in aeronautical engi- neering at Wichita State University. Robinson began his career in the hel- icopter industry in 1957 with Cessna, working on the CH-1 helicopter. Over the next 16 years, he would work at several other prominent helicop- ter companies including Kaman, Bell and Hughes. After failing to convince any of his employers to build a small, inexpensive helicopter, Robinson struck out on his own in 1973.


Initially working out of his garage, Frank Robinson


struggled to get by for six years while pursuing his own small helicopter design.


In 1979, the R-22 was certified and Robinson Helicopter Company


was on its way. Over 35 years and 9,000 plus helicopters later, Robinson Helicopter is one of the most recognizable names in the helicopter indus- try. Today the company employs 1,000 people in a 617,000 square foot facility at Zamperini Field in Torrance, California.


Annually producing over


800 helicopters, Robinson has 131 dealers and 466 service centers around the world. After guiding his company through certification of the new R- 66 turbine powered helicopter, Frank Robinson retired as President and Chairman of the Board of the Robinson Helicopter Company in August of 2010.


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