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The garage at Frank Robinson’s home where the Robinson Helicopter Company began in 1973. Photo: Courtesy of the Robinson Helicopter Company

I was only there for a year but it was long enough to help them get the FAA certification for their Gyroplane.

there were some problems with the financing among other things.

much more at Cessna than any other placed that I’ve worked.

I learned something at all of them,

It wasn’t a good situation; So, I only stayed there for

a year and then I went to work for McCulloch. At that time McCulloch made two stroke chain saw and outboard engines and a drone aircraft engine for the military.

I stayed there for sever-

al years, but once I could see that they weren’t going to go anywhere with helicopter manufac- turing I left.

From McCulloch I went to Kaman.

I was only at Kaman for about a year. I had a design for a Gyrodyne that I had applied for patents on. Charles Kaman was enthusiastic about it, but there was not a lot of money avail- able to pursue it. After trying to raise more money for a year or so I left Kaman and went to Bell. I was with Bell for a couple of years.


didn’t like Texas all that much and wanted to get back to the West Coast. Bell was a good com- pany and I didn’t have any complaints. I was fortunate that at each company I worked for I could pretty much pick which projects I wanted to work on and they would let me do them. After Bell I went to Hughes Helicopters.

I had

previously been in California with McCulloch so I was familiar with the area and liked it. I was with Hughes for four years and from there I started my own company.

RPM: Which one of these jobs was your most memorable and why? FR: The first one, Cessna. I learned so

but I learned the most at Cessna. In some cases I had more opportunities to learn what not to do when designing a helicopter than I did the good things.

RPM:: How did you get your reputation as a tail rotor expert and where were you work- ing?

up things like that.

FR: I did that for a while and you just pick I’ve worked in all aspects of

research and development, on a lot of new designs. At that time people were having more trouble with the tail rotors than anything else. The technical director at Hughes heard me give a paper at a forum and he was quite impressed with it. He contacted me right after the forum and talked me into going to work for Hughes. They were having real problems with the tail rotor on the Hughes 500. I designed a new tail rotor for that helicopter and did a whole bunch of other projects for them as well.

RPM:: What was it about the small, low cost helicopter that captivated you so much that you decided to venture out on your own? FR: Nobody else was doing it. I had read

somewhere that if you hadn’t started your life’s work by the time you were 40, you weren’t going to do it. I was already 43 so I decided that it was now or never.

started my own company and threw everything into it.

23 So I went ahead and

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